“My kids were shy and didn’t like to ask questions or interact with others. Now they like to socialize and have made more friends. They are more open, less shy. Which is good because they need to socialize. They are the future. They are the leaders,” says Hope Horizon East Palo Alto (EPA) parent, Lucia.
After-school and enrichment programs are sometimes thought of as a place where a student gets their homework done or learns something new in order to keep them busy while parents work. Often the idea of it seems bland, but to a community like East Palo Alto and parents like Lucia, Hope Horizon EPA represents much more.
Lucia is a mother of three and has been part of the East Palo Alto community for 13 years. Her family first started at Hope Horizon through Vacation Bible School about five years ago. At Vacation Bible School her children learned lessons about God and the Bible through interactive learning like games and singing.
“It was a wholesome experience. I got to see my kids be a part of something spiritual that also got them to be more social. The program would get together for dinner and I would see every one of my kids' peers congregate with each other.”
Lucia wanted to show her appreciation and give back, so she offered to help prepare dinner for the students in the program. “Everyone was accepting and welcoming, so I wanted to pay it forward by helping make dinner. I also saw the positive impact it had on my kids.” After a long day of arranging flowers, Lucia would cook dinner for the students at Hope Horizon; she would usually make rice or spaghetti, but the dish would depend on what was planned and how many people were expected to eat.
After her children participated in Vacation Bible School, she was looking for an after-school program. During the school year, Hope Horizon offers a variety of programs, including spiritual and academic enrichment programs. The academic programs cater to the students’ individual needs and offer supplemental instruction in writing, reading, math, and other subjects. Spiritual programs provide a safe space for students to learn about God and his love for them. All programs provide opportunities for the students to develop social-emotional skills through interactions and mentorship.
Lucia witnessed first-hand the impact the program had on her oldest child, as they moved up a whole letter grade. “They help the students a lot. Especially the volunteers, they help with reading and math. The volunteers have patience and help the students progress in their academics. They helped my oldest son; he had a C in math and then ended up with a B after some help from the volunteers. It is also a place where they explain what it is to be a good person and overall be nice to everyone.” She also saw how her children developed in the social-emotional aspects as well.
“I only finished middle school so I can only help my kids so much. It's also hard, it is stressful and difficult to be patient when trying to help your kid. Math is also different here than it was back home.”
Having a safe learning environment like Hope Horizon is a crucial piece of support as some parents in the community did not accomplish a high level of education, limiting the amount of help, experience, and guidance that the parent can provide to their student. According to the Census Bureau’s 2021 data, only 23.8 percent of the community have received their bachelor's degree or higher.
Programs like Hope Horizon EPA are driven to meet the needs of students in the community. Those three to four hours after school are filled with opportunities and open doors. In a community like East Palo Alto where a good portion of the parents work extensive hours or work multiple jobs to make ends meet, Hope Horizon East Palo Alto offers a safe space where parents like Lucia can trust their students to be in a safe learning environment where they are provided with lessons, tools, and positive guidance.
As summer and Camp Hope Horizon comes to an end, join us praying as our students as they prepare to transition to the school year:
Lord, we pray that our students made friendships and memories that they will carry with them after camp. We pray that the skills they gained would help them transition into the next school year well. We pray that their parents are able to see the ways their children have grown. We also ask, Lord, that you keep us all safe as we come together to celebrate the end of camp. We thank you for your blessings and for the opportunity to serve youth in in our community. Lord, we also ask you to look over our supporters as they partner in our efforts and mission. We are grateful for you love and provision. Amen.