Q&A with Sonia Espinoza, BGCLAH Wilmington Regional Director
What’s your favorite thing about working as the Wilmington Regional Director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor?
Everyday, we come to work and encourage young people to be the best person they can be. Anyone between the ages of 5-18 is welcome to become a member. All youth, no matter their background, can come to the Club and have a safe place to go after school. Whatever their situation, they can come here and disconnect from any negativity they may face at home or at school. We don’t know what happens to our members when they leave here, but we do know that while they are here they have a positive place to be where they can get help with their homework, be involved in different programs, and get a snack and a hot supper. There really is something for everyone to participate in from STEM, Athletics, Music, Art, Keystone Leadership, Robotics, Digital Studio, and so many more programs. Everyone, from the Staff to our Board of Directors, work as a team to make sure that these young people are able to achieve their dreams without having to worry about any disadvantages they may face.
How many members do you serve daily? How many sites do you have?
Across our 18 Sites, the BGCLAH serves 2,600 members per day! In 2019, we added an additional 5 sites to serve more youth throughout the Greater Los Angeles Harbor area. The BGCLAH’s ADA serves 1 out of every 5 youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs across LA County!
What impact does the Club have on the community and our families?
Being a Club member, our youth are able to have more ties to their community. We’re able to teach them to be proud of where they came from and the community they grew up in. They become the voice that shapes the generations to come. Wilmington, for example, is seen as a “gang infested community” and these kids hear that so much that they start to believe it. The impact the the Club has on their lives helps them find the positive aspects of their community, and in turn makes them better citizens and community members. They become advocates for themselves, their community and for each other.
What is your greatest moment as the BGCLAH Wilmington Regional Director?
Watching our young people finally reaching their top. Goals and dreams look different for every member, but watching them finally get into their dream college/career, or finish a song that they’ve been working on or score their first goal in a game, it’s an amazing thing to see. One of my past members who started coming to the Club as a 5th grader is about to graduate from UC Berkeley in May and has a job already lined up at a Fortune 500 company. It’s so rewarding to see our members becoming good people, being kind to others and learning what it means to give back to their community. At the Club, it’s never about one person, it’s always about the group- how are WE going to make the Club better TOGETHER- and seeing them grow up to become genuinely good people is really rewarding.