El Centro del Pueblo (ElCentroDelPuelo.org) had its first mentoring session for The Literacy Project yesterday, and we are all enthusiastic and thrilled about its success!
We had 3 children at 4pm at Virgil Middle School and 3 mentors (still could use one as another participant is waiting to get in). This group is part of the Mayor's Office Gang Reduction and Youth Development Program Ramparts Area. These three 14 and 15 year old boys were so sweet and vulnerable, so eager to have someone hear them and to help them excel where they are now having difficulties. I was totally touched by their willingness to work with us. You could feel their neediness in a way that almost hurt.
Later at 6pm at El Centro, there were 8 children from 11 years to 17. Most were accompanied by their parents. They were also very interested in participating and their parents were so interested and curious that El Centro’s Family Source Center will now also organize a Parent Support Group for helping their children and planning family events aside from the one hour weekly mentoring (6-7 or 6:30-7:30 Wednesdays). Perhaps they'll plan the weekly screening program or events like father and son night or mother and daughter tea.
We could surely use 2 – 8 more mentors to complete the program of 16 participants. Conversing, relating and starting from their interests to help the children in reading and understanding, writing and expressing themselves to increase their sense of self esteem, and supplementing it with groups which are ready to offer musical training, art training, cooking and many other activities – that is the goal of The Literacy Project. The end goal is to help these individuals find their own voices and express themselves as they deserve to be heard and helped.
I hope to meet some interested Social Work students this coming Thursday at UCLA's School of Social Work. El Centro has already hired a graduate of this school as a therapist.
El Centro del Pueblo is in Echo Park, just off Sunset east of Alvarado. Virgil is at Vermont and 1st Street. The program will be mentoring one-on- one for 3 months and a group project the following 3 months. We are hoping to get a 6 month commitment from both mentors and participants.