Brenna Vives was 16, when her father died from alcoholism in December 2009. His death occurred, when she truly needed the love and guidance of her father. But soon after attending SA Youth, Brenna found a reason to smile and laugh again. She hopes to graduate from college one day with a degree in sociology to begin a platform for teens, whose parents struggle with alcoholism.
Alfred Aguayo, 9, understands the difficulties of growing up in poverty. He worries about his mother finding a job and wishes he was old enough to work to help out with the family finances. However, this is not Alfred’s only goal. He hopes someday to join the San Antonio Police Department, “to put all the bad guys away for good,” he said.
Brenna and Alfred’s stories are two of many success stories featured in SA Youth’s recently published book, “Education Matters.” It includes 24 profiles of children, adolescents and teens, who participate in SA Youth’s out-of-school time program and how it impacts their lives, laying the groundwork for brighter futures.
SA Youth hosted a book reception for “Education Matters” Oct. 5 at The Twig Book Shop in the Pearl Brewery.
“The book is a wonderful way to spread the word about SA Youth, and let our community know about the dreams and aspirations that our youth face despite their adverse circumstances,” said Cynthia Le Monds, chief executive officer of SA Youth.
Many of the 3,600 children, whom SA Youth serves, face a variety of challenges: 75 percent live in families earning less than $15,000 per year; 70 percent are raised in single-parent homes; others reside in a demographic that has a dismal high school, drop-out rate.
“We have youth who want to be doctors, lawyers, police officers and musicians after they graduate. It’s our goal to provide them with the same opportunities that others from more affluent backgrounds have to make their dreams come true,” Le Monds said.
The stories for “Education Matters” were written by Valerie Garza, who undertook the writing project as part of a community service assignment while a senior at Our Lady of the Lake University. The book was illustrated by Marco Guerrero of Tejeda Agency.
Over the past 27 years, SA Youth has provided a safe environment and caring adults to hundreds of at-risk, urban children across the city, as well as helping young adults complete their education and receive workforce training in construction, computer technology and the green jobs sector. For more information, visit www.sanantonioyouth.org.