Like some other parents, Iris Galicia, a mother of two who lives in West Athens, faces some challenges related to how to best raise her young children to ensure they grow up healthy and ready to attend school.
That is why she and about 40 other people recently attended a “Family Fun Day” event at the Helen Keller Park community building. They came in hopes of strengthening their families by connecting with other parents and caregivers, along with community-based organizations and service providers that provide vital services to families, including St. Francis Medical Center (a Welcome Baby provider), South Los Angeles Health Projects and Early Childhood Linkages to Wellness. The event was organized by the Best Start West Athens Community Partnership, in collaboration with Reclaiming America’s Communities through Empowerment (RACE).
“In every community, it’s important for residents to feel a sense of connection – not only with their families, but to also know how to get help and resources in time-of-need.” - Natasha Moise
“I wanted to learn more about the available resources in my community,” explained Galicia. “By coming here, I learned more about important services that are available for my kids.”
Julio Reyes, a member of the West Athens Best Start Community Partnership and newly elected Leadership Group member, said the event brought much relief to parents. Reyes also works as an outreach specialist representing St. Francis Hospital through the Welcome Baby program that targets pregnant women. He explained that, for many families, connecting with other parents to share experiences, and finding out how to obtain vital services for their children, made a big difference in their lives.
“It’s part of empowering families,” he said. “Parents in attendance built important connections to resources that they can potentially access. For some of them, they didn’t know they could find resources that are available in their communities.”
That is why this event last February succeeded in strengthening the bond between the residents and community-based organizations, so that they may see each other as united as they work together towards the same goal of strengthening families and communities, Reyes explained.
Natasha Moise, a program officer for West Athens Best Start Community, echoed similar sentiments.
“In every community, it’s important for residents to feel a sense of connection – not only with their families, but to also know how to get help and resources in time-of-need,” she explained. “This event helped bridge various groups together. It was also a good opportunity for these partners and residents to talk about Best Start, and work together towards forging stronger families and communities.”
Myra Rivero, a resident outreach coordinator with the West Athens Best Start Community Partnership, said bringing residents, parents, and service organizations together is part of Best Start’s goal of creating healthier families and communities.
“We wanted community organizations to stay connected with the residents,” she explained, noting many of them are immigrants who often feel insulated. “At this event, residents learned about the type of valuable services that are available to them, and how to take advantage of them. There was lots of information given to the residents that aim to strengthen families.”