January 2010


Esperanza Community Housing Corporation is supporting the “Homelessness Ends With a Home” Action!  On January, 19 and 20 2010, communities will congregate in San Francisco to enforce our civil and housing rights.  No more to the crimalizing of the homeless!

Link: “Homelessness Ends With  A Home” Action!

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http://bellaartes.org/Bella_Artes_2/Our_Special_Guest.html

THE STORY UP TO NOW…

Alfredo was a smart, curious chubby lad when first we met. He was about 12, a tad suspicious and carrying a good sized chip on his shoulder.

I was at that time (about 13 years ago!) creating “Cut out Kids.” life-sized, cutout paintings of children on masonite. I painted each child photographed holding up a blank piece of paper. Into the space, the children would paint their own images.

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Alfredo, who was a bit crazed about Marvin the Martian, painted his round green visage into the blank.

alfredoKid’s Space Museum, at that time in a small space in Pasadena, hosted our first exhibition. It was a grand opening, resplendent with punch and cookies (the childhood equivalent of wine and cheese.)

I arrived in a school bus, accompanied by Clean and Green Teens (from the LA Conservation Corps’ youth program) and “my kids.”

When we pulled up outside the museum, Alfredo refused to leave the bus.

“I won’t get out,” he said. “This is a white persons’ place.”

“Yes,” I replied (ignoring the fact, as all my kids seem to that I am in fact white) but these white people are hosting a party for us, a party because they like your artwork.”

“I won’t go.”

“Look,” I said. “I’ll make you a deal. Come in for five minuets. If you don’t want to stay after that, you can return to the bus and wait.”

I would never let a child alone on a bus, but I was pretty sure of the enticements that kid space had to offer.

Alfredo agreed. And within 2 minuets, he  was running around, trying on hats and make-believing, like the child he was. Even the older and therefore more jaded teens were running about clothing their hand in puppets, creating, playing and being children for a least one night.

Alfredo was of course recognized, by his cut-out portrait.

“Is this you?” adults would ask.

“Is this your work?”

Alfredo acknowledged that it was. As the night progressed, Alfredo spent more and more time lurking by his portrait.

At last, filled with cookies and punch, tired, happy and proud we returned to the bus.

Me being me, I could not resist a nudge…

“So, what did you think of the white people?”

Alfredo was quiet for a moment.

“Those were O.K. white people I guess.”

For years to come Alfredo was in my program. Coming to art classes and traipsing all about the city on weekend field trips.

Eventually he disappeared into the horizon of adulthood.

Fast forward about ten years… I am leaving Villa Esperanza, the then site of my arts program. A tall, thin, handsome young man is exiting the building.

“Miss Elizabeth,” he cries. “Do you remember me?”

I had to admit ignorance.

“It’s me, Alfredo.”

And then I did. It was hard to see the chubby boy in the thin handsome young man.

 Some people always look the same, but some kids metamorphosis in a matter of months.

“I’m so glad you are still doing your program,” he said. “You opened my eyes. You changed my life. I’m going to Berkeley now.”

Well that was extremely cool!

Fast forward again…it’s October 15th, 2009. Alfredo now a legislative consultant for Senator Dean Flores was a speakers at our benefit… Dancing Under the Stars.

“Remember me?” Alfredo asked. And once again, it took me a moment.

We stood together before his speech, “Do you remember Kids Space? And how you didn’t want to go into a white person’s place?”

He laughed ruefully. “When you grow up like this,” he said holding his hands to his head like horse blinders. ”You are afraid to see.”

“I remember moving into Villa Esperanza, he said. “I was so proud to have my own room. Up until that time, I was not allowed to bring friend home. ‘There is no room for the here.’ My parents said. And I’ll never forget Miss Elizabeth. She challenged us. She took us all over the city on public transportation and then buses. She transformed my horizon …”

The Community Health Promoters Training Program was created in 1995 by Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, to build and maintained a comprehensive approach to health systems change and community transformation. 

Today,the program has trained over 334 community residents to become community leaders, health leaders, patient advocates, and health educators  in the South LA area, but 800 more serve all over California.

Class of 2009

Link to Article publish by La Opinion: Promotoras de salud son vitales para immigrantes

The_Cut_Out_Kidsfor_Web.mov

 http://www.intersectionssouthla.org/index.php/story/south_las_greening_is_more_than_gardens_though_they_help/

by Francesca Ayala

Working with community partners and residents we have provided over 200 families the opportunity to attend sports events (through Staple’s Center) and Theater Events (Through Create now) in the last three weeks alone.

Especial thanks are due to the outreach efforts of Cesar Anaya, Josefina Barajas & Jesus Garcia as well as Jill Gurr and Ruby Medina from Create Now and Jennifer Lynch of Staple’s Center Foundation

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