Our Stories

Juanita’s Story: Finding the Path to Success with the Center’s Support

Juanita was addicted to alcohol and drugs and in an abusive relationship that was harmful to her and her two children. She was desperate to get her life back on track and be the best parent she could to her two children. When Juanita first came to the Center, she wasn’t sure what to expect – she felt scared and alone and she knew that she needed help.

Center staff greeted me and guided me to the playroom where smiling faces welcomed me and my children. As my children played, I was introduced to a counselor who helped me understand what services the Center had to offer me: parenting classes, anger management, the single parent network, Narcotics Anonymous, family therapy, individual therapy and a place just to have a space for me. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe and not alone as a parent.

As Juanita started to use the Center’s services, she became more proactive and started to implement the skills she was learning into her everyday life. She became an activist for herself, her children and for the community. Juanita noticed that her children’s confidence and self-esteem were improving right along with her own.

Today, two of Juanita’s teenaged sons are both on the honor roll and are already thinking about college. The boys still feel connected to the people at the Center and regularly visit to help out in the Playroom.

They think of the Center as a second home and take pride in being able to give back to the place that helped them become the young men they are today.

Juanita has an eight-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter who have both had the Center in their lives from day one. In 2009, Juanita graduated from City College of San Francisco’s Community Health Worker Program and is continuing her studies in public health. She attributes much of her success to the help that she has received from the Center.

These four children that I’ve been blessed with are on a path to a bright future that wouldn’t have been possible without the Center. The Center helped me break the cycle of violence. The Center showed me a new way of life.

Juanita joined the Center’s Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) in 2008 as a way of giving back to the place that has given her so much. She takes great pride in her role as a PAC member.

I feel that my struggles have enabled me to bring a different point of view on ways to help and empower those who are in the same position I was in not too long ago.

Child Safety Awareness Training Empowers Children

Two little girls – Emily and Amy – are both seven years old. They go to different schools but attend the same afterschool program. One afternoon, they were playing together on the playground – Emily jump-roping and Amy doing cartwheels. A man approached Emily – he was standing outside the fence. He spoke to Emily for a few minutes. He asked her to pose and he took pictures. He asked to meet her friend. Emily called Amy to come over. Amy, who had received the Center’s Child Safety Awareness education, came over to see what Emily was doing. She saw the man. She didn’t know him. She knew not to talk to him. She knew to scream and run away. She knew immediately to find a safe adult who could help her. She ran to her teacher who was standing on the other side of the yard watching another group of children. Thankfully, the girls’ teacher was there. She brought both girls to a safe place, called the police, and the man was warned to stay away. After everyone was safe, the teacher asked Amy how she knew what to do. Amy said that she learned about her safety web at her school through the Center’s safety awareness programs. Emily didn’t have this class at her school and as a result, she didn’t know that the man posed a danger to her.

The Center’s Child Safety Awareness program educates thousands of San Francisco school children each year through its age-appropriate, culturally diverse curriculum that focuses on personal safety awareness, assertiveness training, environmental safety knowledge and support system development. Child Safety Awareness training is provided through a series of four ½ hour classroom meetings with students. The training is provided free of charge to San Francisco Unified School District classrooms and is available for a modest fee to any private school operating in San Francisco. The Child Safety Awareness Program is available in English, Spanish and Mandarin.