LA’s BEST was really the BEST part of my childhood. Growing up, I didn’t have anyone to speak to or help me with my homework- even though I was in bilingual courses from TK-3rd grade. My parents worked really hard to provide basic necessities for my brother and me. They didn’t have time to sit and guide me through schoolwork. They didn’t have the income to enroll us in extracurricular activities. Thank goodness for LA’s BEST.
Living in an apartment building I always saw the bond kids around me had with each other- however I was not a part of that. I remember expressing this to my best friend Monica- when I was in the second grade. She would always invite me to stay at LA’S BEST to spend time together and “play”-but my parents were always hesitant and instead my mother would cut her work day short to pick up my brother and me.
I recall a very sunny day waiting for my mother at the dismissal gate- 3pm went by 3:30pm and then 4pm- I was extremely worried at the time and HUNGRY. My mother didn’t have a cellphone and her job wouldn’t answer. I began crying thinking the worst. Coach Mariela approached me and my brother and offered us a snack while we waited. Throughout our waiting period I was able to observe what the program was like and I instantly fell in love. I wanted to be a part of the dance team and my brother wanted to play sports more than anything in the world. As soon as my mother arrived, we asked her to sign us up- she asked for further information, spoke with my father and we began LA’s BEST the following day.
LA’s BEST instantly helped me in so many ways. I began to speak more English, I gained confidence and more than anything I knew I was safe and my parents had the ability to work their full day and overtime (if they had to).
The program provided me and my brother with valuable mentors we called coaches- that’s what they really were- coaches guiding us through some of the most important times of our lives and training us in the extracurricular activities we loved. It’s very funny to recall what Fridays looked like- my dad was always out by 3pm and would attempt to pick us up early but we always made him wait because we wanted to stay in the program.
Aside from the academic and lifestyle support, LA’S BEST gave me many first-time opportunities I will forever cherish. Growing up, we had a lot of love in my family, but resources were scarce. They didn’t know about the things many other kids had to help them – like cell phones, cable, Internet access, a computer. As
This is another way LA’s BEST influenced my life. LA’S BEST taught me how to type and use a computer and they even gave my family our first computer. Even though we still had no internet we had the time of our lives drawing and playing the games that were already downloaded.
My first Dodgers game was also because of LA’s BEST. LA’s BEST took us on a field trip and being able to bond with my friends and my coaches was an absolute blessing. I was able to dance my life away in the dance team and perform in public which is what I mostly love to do.
I always looked up to my coaches, they were so cool to me- I always aspired to be like them when I grew older – and I did! I became a staff member as soon as I could because in my heart, I always knew I wanted to give back to my community and the future generations just like my coaches did for me. I will never be able to thank LA’sBEST enough for the positive impact they had on me and my family.