April 2010


Through the Arts and Ecological Science Program, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation provides our neighborhood children and youth with opportunities to learn new ways of expressing their creativity, explore their own and other cultures, experience the artistic and cultural richness of Los Angeles, and grow gardens in our community. 

Evie, director of the Arts and Science Program and the class of 2010.

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Esperanza Community Health Promoters work with collaborating agencies like St. John’s Well Child and Family CenterStrategic Actions for Just Economy (“SAJE”), and LA CAN conducting community-based research in the South Los Angeles area to help minimize slum housing conditions.

Ms. Cuevas, a resident of the Pico-Union area said that she has invested her own money to fix her home and to help minimized vermin infestation.  Yet, the bathroom is still shows molds even when she repaints it.  Full story:http://www.impre.com/laopinion/noticias/2010/4/21/plaga-en-muchos-apartamentos-184392-2.html

The People’s Hearing: http://www.cnbc.com/id/36692990

Olivia Mendez, graduated from Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program in the year 1998.  When she began the training, Olivia didn’t understand the meaning of a “Health Promoter”, but as the training progressed, she felt like she was studying for a career in health and was amazed by this training since she had always felt the need to help others.

After graduating from the training, she began an internship at the Los Angeles County Immunization Program under the supervision of Leticia Ibarra.  There she worked outreaching the community and this is where she discovered different types of community needs, and was glad that she was able to provide information and resources for them thanks to the training. 

After she completed her internship with the Los Angeles County Immunization Program, Olivia started working with South Los Angeles Health Projects (SLAHP) expanding her knowledge in immunizations.

Olivia is now a  Community Health Promoter and Project Manager for Rescatando Salud (Health Rescue Project); a project of Esperanza.  Rescatando Salud works to improve immunization rates of children in our  neighborhood through immunization promotion, working closely with the County Immunization Project, South Central Family Center.

From left to right: Elizabeth Guevara, Evelia Castañeda, Blanca Valdez-Nava, Olivia Mendez, Norma Perez, and Graciela Torres.

Para mi ha sido una bonita experiencia trabajar en lo que me gusta porque de esa manera todo se hace mejor y a la vez se disfruta.  Me llevo muy bien con mis compañeras y eso es muy importante cuando se trabaja en equipo.

Recently AARP magazine featured a piece on non-traditional jobs in health care and Community Health Promoter Olivia Mendez was highlighted. 

Link: AARP Bulletin Today

 

Thank you GERRY VALIDO,

He has been keeping the “Meeting of Minds” mural at Mercado la Paloma  graffiti free since 2000.

He is the Citywide Graffiti Abatement Monitor / Graffiti Court Liaison /Program Manager-Educational Outreach Program

Office of Community Beautification, Board of Public Works, Department of Public Works, City of Los Angeles.

 That’s a mighty long title, and he deserves it! He always responds quickly to a cry for help.

THANKS Gerry!

Donald Nollar From Maternal and Child Health Access providing training at Esperanza to the Community Health Promoter Training Class of 2010.

Donald Nollar (Training Specialist/Food Stamp Coordinator) 
from MCHA.

Maternal and Child Health Access (MCHA) is dedicated to ensuring meaningful access to health and social services for low-income women and their families and to helping them improve the quality of their lives.

bird houses,baths and easter

I just got 12 new kids in the program, 3 of whom I have wanted for a long time. They live in Alegria. They have been watching me for years, with shy, wistful eyes. Their father is an alcoholic who beats them and their mother, who in turn beats them. Now they are in my class and happy children for at least a small time. They confess to me that they found a rotting pumpkin and secretly carried it to the garden to see if it would grow. We wondered where that pumpkin had come from! Now it is sprouting everywhere. The redemptive power of gardens, art and growth, that’s what I should be thinking of.

 Today I was planting in the gardens with my kids. The kids are so excited to see their pumpkins growing!

Jesus (names have been mostly changed to protect the guilty) and I were weeding and watering and disturbed an ant’s nest. We watched as the ants began rescuing their milky, clear eggs from a watery grave. I described the life of the ant. How ants milk aphids, (sometimes called ant cows) how they grow mushrooms underground and how they live as a society, queen, workers, nursemaids and soldiers.

Jesus’s eyes grew wide, “Weird.”

 Sometimes the trust and belief in a child’s eyes makes my breath catch. We looked for aphids and I repeated the oft told tale of these parthenogenetic insects. Female that reproduce females, that reproduce females. Then at summer’s end some grow wings and morph into males.

 “Weird.” We went looking for aphids. We discovered small flies of unknown species and a lady bug larva. Lady bug larval bear no resemblance to lady bugs. They look rather like a black and orange creepy, rubber Halloween bugs.

These kids love to plant and even like weeding!

I wanted to pull up some of the very, very, very large deep rooted grain plants that had grown from bird seed. They are OK, but now our garden is crowded with sprouting corn, pumpkins, squash and myriad wildflowers.

Jesus got into it. (I had heard that either he or his older brother had an “anger problem.” Well who could blame them?) At any rate he beat the chlorophyll out of that plant! He was an inspiration to a small army of children who took to the grains with a single minded ferocity. He and his older sister Azalea set upon the weeds with a fierce cry of “Team work!” They were so enthusiastic I set them lose on the uncleared parkways, dry and woven with crab grass. “Team work!”

There was a party at the apartment across the way. “Miss Elizabeth!” I recognized a father from Villa Esperanza where I had taught years before, but I did not recognize Daisy. She had been an adorable 5 year old. Now she was a delicate, long 19. She was starting Junior College with plans to transfer to Northridge.

They gave us large plates of food, cake and some muti-colored jello dish that would have been the envy of Salt Lake City. (Mormons are very fond of jello.)

It was about 8:40, time to go home. But where were my car keys? They had been hooked onto my belt loop…. The entire neighborhood turned out with key ring lights, flashlights that you had to turn just so and shake gently while humming a soothing “please light up.” House lamps on super, super double plus long connections of extension cords snaked in patterns of black and white down the street and into houses, nesting in outlets and flooding the parkway.

I finally called AAA and told them to come rescue me. I’d need a new key. It was going to cost a lot.

“What will you do Miss?” Jesus asked.

“Well, I’ll get the key. I have to” I said, but it’s very expensive.”

 “Don’t they pay you to teach art Miss?”

 “Well yes, but …”

“You could make some stuff and sell it…. We’ll help you.” The love was palpable.

Finally on a final hopeless 3rd time ‘round the basement search I saw the key, floating on a shallow sea of garbage. Earlier in the day I had wrestled a mattress into the garbage can. The key must have been knocked in. We all cheered and every one got a chocolate marshmallow bunny. Tomorrow we Easter egg hunt!

“I can’t pick up the eggs.” said Genesis. She is a smart, funny spunky child without legs and only one thumb. “You and mom can be my egg retrieval team, pick up the eggs, when I call them.”

“I’ll help!” chimed in Madelia, a dirty, wild 5 year old.

 Very sweet, although I doubt that Genesis will get to eat many from that collection. Those eggs don’t have a chance!

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