When Cristina needed to feel a sense of community, she found it at LA’s BEST. Cristina started volunteering with LA’s BEST at Griffin Elementary School in Lincoln Heights when she was a freshman in high school. High school was very difficult for Cristina, but LA’s BEST helped her find community: “Being at LA’s BEST made me feel like I was part of something. I developed a really close relationship with the staff. And, the kids! They were so genuine and refreshing. When I was having a rough day, the kids would really bring up my spirits.”
LA’s BEST became such an important part of Cristina’s life that she continued to volunteer for the program until she graduated. Fourteen years later, she’s still with LA’s BEST! Like many staff, Cristina has grown within the organization and is now a Traveling Program Staff . And she has no intention of leaving, referring to herself as a “lifer”. Cristina’s own daughter is now an LA’s BEST student and loves the program as much as her mom.
Cristina still feels this connection, even as she works remotely due to the impact of COVID-19 on our programming: “No matter what, LA’s BEST program culture doesn’t change. We are all doing what it takes to support each other – and our families.”
LA’s BEST provided Cristina a sense of community and belonging when she needed it most. “People stay with LA’s BEST for a long time. That says a lot about how we feel about what we do. We love our job. We feel the impact.” Part of the magic of LA’s BEST staff, Cristina mentions, is the positivity and sense of belonging: “Leadership makes you feel welcomed and you want to make others feel the same way. We are truly a family.”