I am proud to be a product of LA’s BEST. I grew up in the most dangerous one mile radius in Los Angeles in the 90’s. With my mother having passed and my father working, my siblings and I were left alone.
Walking to school or walking home meant taking my life in my hands. At the time, little hands at the mercy of raging gang violence. During my elementary school age, funerals were a regular function.
Through LA’s BEST, I learned real world skills. The snack they taught me to make in cooking class, became the dinner I made for my siblings that night. While kids my age were left to hang out and become entrenched in unlawful activity, or becoming the victims of it, I was at LA’s BEST.
I was sheltered in a very negative way. I didn’t know anything outside of the environment I grew up in. This was also the case for all the children who grew up like me. For some time I believed my life was meant to be the horrors I witnessed- it was all I knew. It was my destiny. This is why LA’s BEST means so much to me- it introduced me to a world I never knew. I was given the gift of choice.
At LA’s BEST I was encouraged, I was believed in, and I experienced every fond memory I have from my childhood.
My life and my circumstances did not magically change after elementary school. I was faced with many challenges and obstacles still. However, LA’s BEST instilled in me- that I mattered, that I was capable, and that I had options. LA’s BEST taught me to be resilient, and I am forever grateful for the life I live because of this.
And now, as a single parent, I rely on this program for my two daughters. I need to work full time to provide for my family. I don’t have the luxury of picking my kids up when school gets out. It means the world that I know they are safe and learning at their afterschool program.
But LA’s BEST also goes beyond just child care. I’m so grateful that my daughters have the opportunity to experience new things that change their lives at LA’s BEST. My daughters are thriving as they participate in science club, softball, dance & drill, and so much more. These activities teach them important skills, build their confidence, and give them access to opportunities they might not otherwise have.
Wendy has been a strong champion for LA’s BEST students and families. She joined our advocacy efforts in 2019, when she traveled to Sacramento with LA’s BEST President & CEO Eric Gurna to advocate for afterschool programs at the California Afterschool & Summer Challenge. Wendy shared her story about the impact of afterschool with hundreds of people, and she continues to be a powerful advocate for LA’s BEST families. Spectrum News recently featured Wendy in their story After School Program Under Threat Amid State Budget Talks, in which she shares more about her life and experience in LA’s BEST. Check it out here.