Montclair, Calif. – The Hope through Housing Foundation’s After School and Beyond program dared Itzel Farias to dream. Now 18 and beginning her second year at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Itzel is doing the rest.
“I moved here when I was 10 years old,” Itzel says, recalling the bond she quickly made with other children who, like Itzel, had moved to National Community Renaissance’s San Antonio Vista community in Montclair, California, from rough housing developments in even rougher neighborhoods.
The difference was night and day.
Before moving to San Antonio Vista, Itzel, her mom and younger sister were forced to live in a high-crime complex, riddled with rodents and worse.
“We would constantly hear helicopters touching down to take people to emergency, usually because there had been a stabbing or they had been shot, sometimes outside our apartment,” she says.
Not only was San Antonio Vista a real community, but the after school program gave her a peek into opportunities she never knew existed. She recalls one instructor, in particular, who encouraged her to take advanced courses in high school and to go to college.
“Beforehand, I didn’t know much about college,” Itzel says. “He told me that getting into honors (classes) was really essential because they give you so much more knowledge than regular classes. When you get to college, other students will be far more advanced than you are, and you’re not going to know how to compete. Honors classes give you an advantage.”
Today, Itzel is studying to become a microbiologist – something she knows wouldn’t have happened without the After School and Beyond program. First things first, however.
“In five years, I see myself going to grad school, definitely.”
Itzel’s story embodies the commitment Hope through Housing and National CORE have made to transforming lives and communities, said Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, Hope’s President. During the past two decades, Hope through Housing has provided more than 2 million hours of life-changing human services for National CORE residents and surrounding neighborhoods, including preschool and after school programs, senior wellness services and special needs assistance. More recently, the organization has launched “Family Opportunity Centers,” which provide training in financial literacy and job retention and guidance in how to move toward home ownership.
“Creating opportunities for people to succeed in life is what we’re all about,” Pinedo said. “The challenges so many of our residents face are through no fault of their own. Our job is to give them the tools they need to move from dependency to prosperity. We are so proud of Itzel and so happy to have had the opportunity to play a role in her success.”
About Hope through Housing Foundation and National CORE
The Hope through Housing Foundation and National Community Renaissance, both based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., manage and serve affordable, senior and special-needs housing communities in California, Arkansas, Texas and Florida. For more information on both organizations, please visit www.nationalcore.org.
Steve Lambert, The 20/20 Network
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