When we asked about her experience in LA’s BEST, Dennise emphasized the critical role the program played for her family for the four years she was enrolled in the program. Her mom and dad worked full-time and needed support to keep their daughter safe and supervised after school. Since her family could not afford childcare, she would have spent her time alone at home while her parents worked. Dennise’s parents had peace of mind knowing that she was somewhere safe and learning after school.
“I come from a working class family. LA’s BEST wasn’t a want but a need. I needed to stay there for the sake of my family’s income and my safety, especially in our area.”
Dennise lived right across from her elementary school in South Los Angeles, which she says was not the safest place growing up. Without LA’s BEST, she feels like she would have roamed the streets of her neighborhood along with many other kids she remembers seeing. Instead, she enjoyed spending time with her friends and participating in different enrichment activities while surrounded by adults who were positive influences. Dennise feels like LA’s BEST enhanced her knowledge and sense of self in a healthy way that would eventually benefit the community.
She summarizes her childhood in LA’s BEST in one word: Wholesome.
“If I was a kid and I had to do it again, I would.”