El Nido Family Center provides vulnerable families with resources to deal with pandemic

Samantha Bravo, Assistant Campus Editor

To assist low income residents in the city of Los Angeles, El Nido Family Centers’ Pacoima location opened their gates and provided families with resources during the coronavirus pandemic; El Nido’s mission — to break the cycle of poverty. Despite the rain, volunteers quickly loaded boxes and bags filled with essential items to around 100 families at the food drive on Monday.

Families enrolled in the El Nido Family Center’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Program were provided with essential items such as groceries, personal protective equipment and baby supplies. The event was in partnership with The Wild Horse Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by professional Major League Baseball player, Yasiel Puig.

“We needed to get together with a supply chain to get family groceries and sanitizing items and they have those connections,” said José M. Beltrán, director of the GRYD program. “We are an organization that has been around for almost a hundred years and they are an organization that has star power and together we are able to help the community.”

Founded in 1925, El Nido provides counseling and family services to disadvantaged communities throughout Los Angeles County including South Los Angeles, Compton, the Antelope Valley, Pacoima and its surrounding communities.

According to their website, The Gang Reduction and Youth Development program is funded through the city of Los Angeles’ Office of the Mayor and the program covers the Pacoima and Sun Valley area. GRYD provides counseling, psychosocial education and case management to address underlying risk factors for youth between the ages of 10 and 15.

Youth and families who are referred to the program participate in a one-on-one assessment interview with a case manager. They also have to complete the Youth Services Eligibility Tool to determine their eligibility for the service..

To be eligible for GRYD Prevention Services, a youth must meet or exceed the risk threshold in four or more of these areas: antisocial tendencies, weak parental supervision, critical life events, impulsive risk taking, guilt neutralization, negative peer influence, peer delinquency, family gang influence and self-reported delinquency.

According to the GRYD website, their goal is to increase protective factors against gang joining among at-risk youth by addressing the youth at the individual, family and peer level, while strengthening problem solving skills and the family’s structure and cohesion.

Beltrán said in order to qualify a youth must present with at least two of nine risk factors for gang-joining.

Executive Director of Wild Horse Children’s Foundation Lisette Carnet said the organization partnered with El Nido and provided difficult to find items such as hand sanitizers, masks and gloves.

“We’re really grateful for all of our sponsors, even giving us Legos and toys to give to children, we’re really excited to have this partnership with this beautiful community that always comes together for our families in need,” Carnet said.

Despite the health risks, volunteers showed up to the food drive and filled tote bags with items such as Lysol spray, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves, and placed them in every vehicle. Boxes also included products from Tapia Brothers Company, Del Monte, Magaly’s Tamales and Mexican Grill, and pan dulce from comedian and actor George Lopez’s Panaderia Chingon.

“Today we’re giving away half a dozen tamales to families through El Nido and we’re hoping the families are enjoying them,” said Magaly Colelli, president of Magaly’s Tamales and Mexican Grill.

Cristina Molina volunteered with The Wild Horse Children’s Foundation before and said she enjoys helping her community and providing them with resources they need.

“I think it’s really important to give back and help those who are struggling, imagine people who aren’t working or can’t find necessary supplies, so it’s really important to be here and give back to the community,” Molina said.

El Nido also partners with Valley Presbyterian Hospital and First 5 LA for their Welcome Baby program, which provides free voluntary home visitation programs and support during pregnancy and throughout a baby’s first nine months.

Welcome Baby has served more than 10,000 mothers and infants since launching in 2003, according to El Nido. The program is available to families who plan to deliver at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Northridge Hospital Medical Center and Valley Presbyterian Hospital, regardless of risk factors or socio-economic status. More information on this program is available at El Nido’s Welcome Baby program webpage.

More information on El Nido’s services is available by phone through El Nido’s Pacoima Family Source Center at (818) 896-7776.