“The Community Center was a big part of growing up for me. I am the person that I am today because of the help I found here.” – David
At age seven, David came to CHW’s La Costa Paloma Community Center looking for help with his homework. Having just moved to the United States from Honduras, David was struggling with his homework, which neither David nor his family could understand as they only spoke Spanish. The Community Center soon became a second home for David who was living with his uncle, while his mother battled substance abuse and he never knew his father.
David had to adjust quickly to the new language and environment. He remembers what it was like when he first moved to the US:
“I didn’t have the easiest life. I didn’t grow up in a traditional home, and I never met my dad. School was the biggest struggle; I wouldn’t do my homework.”
La Costa Paloma’s Community Center became a critical resource during this time of transition in David’s life. In each of CHW’s Community Centers, Community Building Coordinators provide after-school programs for children and connect families and adults to resources. At La Costa Paloma, the Coordinators helped David not only with his homework, but also helped him excel and discover a love of learning and school. David says:
“Shakira and Leti (CHW onsite staff) would always push me. It was a lot of hard work, but I grew a lot. I felt supported by them.”
David soon began coming to the Community Center daily for help with his homework, and in middle school began to volunteer for community events. As a high school sophomore, David started giving back in the Community Center as a reading coach for CHW’s early literacy program, Running Readers. Beyond this role, David started using his own talents and passions by teaching dance lessons to his peers and other resident youth. He even organized a talent show with the help of the Coordinator, providing a great opportunity for neighbors to come together to not only watch their children’s performance but also find community with one another. David is now a strong student and part of an elite dance group. He recently traveled to Orlando, Florida for a dance competition. Upon reflection on his earlier years at La Costa, David remembers:
“Living at La Costa Paloma made me realize that when people come together as a community, it can do so much. I ask myself, where would I be if I had not received that help? Helping other people is really important to me. The Community Center was a big part of growing up for me. I am the person that I am today due to the help that I had here.”
David will be attending San Francisco State University this fall. He finds himself drawn towards a career in medicine, where he hopes to help people. He still has a passion for giving back to his community, reflecting the core values of Community HousingWorks – fostering a sense of true community and and helping people “move up” in the world.