Rachel’s Story

Growing up on Skid Row, Rachel remembers not being able to go outside. Her playground was the halls of the hotel where she lived with her mother and brother.

She didn’t know that other kids had parks, or ate three times a day, or didn’t have to avoid the shared bathroom at night in case of a potentially dangerous situation.

She did know that when a woman knocked on their door sharing about a new place for kids in her area to learn and play, Rachel wanted to go. After convincing her mom, Rachel and her brother joined one of the first classes at Para Los Niños.

From that first day, “Everything changed,” says Rachel. For the first time ever, she had a fun, stable and safe space to do homework, play with friends, color with crayons, and play with toys; a place where she was guaranteed to eat at least two meals a day.

She especially cherished the opportunities to take ballet lessons, learn how to ride a bike and even go on her first and only overnight camping trip to Griffith Park—experiences that weren’t readily accessible to low-income, inner-city kids at the time. It was there that she learned to play board games, went camping, and had her first birthday party.

More consequentially, she also learned she had dyslexia and staff worked with Rachel and her mom to manage and develop a life-long love of books. More than all of that though, Para Los Niños helped her learn to trust.

Now a mom herself, Rachel firmly believes the skills and relationships she built at PLN established the foundation for the successful, fulfilled life she has today. Knowing that such an intervention can help transform lives, she is now committed to finding ways to give back.

Incredibly, Rachel is just one of tens of thousands of Los Angelenos whose lives were changed through PLN over these past four decades.

Make a gift today and ensure more children have access to education and support, like Rachel received, to reach their full potential.

See more stories of Para Los Niños’ impact over the years on our Who We Serve page.

Have a story to share or want to learn more?
Contact Dan Nieman at dnieman@paralosninos.org today.