Author: Sinead Chilton

Oct 4

Heather Hemmens Talks About Why Homeless Children Need our Help

Heather Hemmens is an actress best known for her roles in The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) and If Loving You is Wrong (2014). But better to known to School on Wheels as amazing tutor, volunteer and friend. She is celebrating her 1 year anniversary as a School on Wheels tutor working with homeless students, in this short, yet powerful video.

Oct 3

School on Wheels 5K Sponsored Walk – November 19, 2016

Every year we join forces with the community in walking to raise awareness about homelessness in Los Angeles. The event is hosted by UnitedWay and is called HomeWalk. We are the largest and only team representing homeless children and youth! Join us in this annual sponsored walk (SOWALK) at Grand Park, 200 N Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012 ALL WELCOME. Once you have registered visit our Crowdrise page and start collecting sponsors!

Sep 22

Ventura County Credit Union Annual Back to School Drive

Helping To Donate Backpacks And School Supplies

Ventura County Credit Union teamed up with School On Wheels to provide school supplies to the homeless students we tutor and mentor throughout the school year. Each of their seven branch locations, including Camarillo, Moorpark, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura, participated in this drive.

From July 1st to August 31st, each location accepted donations of school supplies to donate to this very worthy cause. They saw many generous and giving people step up to the plate and help to make this one of their most successful drives yet!

Thank you so much for making this an annual event.  Our Ventura Resource Center was fit to burst with all the backpacks and supplies we received from this drive.  Supporting School on Wheels in this way ensures homeless students start school with all the equipment they need to have a successful school year. Thank you VCCU staff and members!

Sep 15

BCG Digital Ventures Volunteers Revamp Digital Learning Center

BCG Digital Ventures, Helps Improve School on Wheels’ Learning Center at the Homeless Shelter in Compton.

In August, 75 employees from BCG Digital Ventures’ Manhattan Beach location volunteered their time, helping School on Wheels improve its learning center at the homeless shelter in Compton. The Digital Ventures volunteers cleaned the rooms, painted the walls, and assembled and lifted furniture.The end result: a beautiful center where children can do their homework at furnished workstations, toddlers can play educational games on colorful rugs, and babies can sleep in newly assembled cribs. In addition to providing the children with new furniture and an amazing Digital Learning Center, BCG Digital Ventures (along with donations from Bristol Farms, Beautify Earth, and many more) also contributed new computers, printers, and a charging station. Thank you to everyone who helped make School on Wheels’ Digital Learning Center possible!

Sep 15

Homeless at the age of ten, former student shares his story

  • Graduation picture - alongside youngest sister Blanca, mom Bertha, and middle sister Susan.
  • Carlos with his wife Nancy and daughter, Azucena

Carlos Horacio Hernandez, a former student of School on Wheels, was plunged into homelessness at the age of ten.  A year earlier, he had arrived in the United States from Honduras with his mother, stepfather, and two sisters. His mother lost her job within six months of occupying a four bedroom house in Los Angeles. Carlos’s stepfather disappeared from their lives when things started getting tough for the family and was around only for moments at a time. With no help to pay bills, Carlos’s mother warned the children of the possibility of losing their home. After four months of not meeting payments, police officers posted a letter at their door telling them they only had two hours to evacuate. Thus, Carlos’s journey into homelessness began.  

At twelve years old, Carlos found himself in non-permanent housing situations time after time. Eventually they wound up at the Union Rescue Mission shelter which is where Carlos had his first encounter with a School on Wheels tutor.

Carlos remembered hearing about School on Wheels from others at the shelter. His mother received more information about the program and Carlos, along with his sisters, began going to sessions at The Midnight Mission. He was sixteen years old when he met his tutor John, and for Carlos, meeting with him was a safe space where he could talk and relax.

“I used tutoring as a space for me to be me, a positive environment…I would get my homework done right away, and the rest of the time, we just talked about stuff or we did something like play a quick game.”

Carlos recalls John as someone who showed genuine care for him and his sisters.  After each session, John walked with Carlos and his sisters to the train and waited with them until it arrived.

“The thing I remember the most was when we used to finish with the session. He could have gone home, could have done whatever, but he opted to walk with us.”

Even after the family left the shelter, Carlos and his sisters still attended tutoring sessions. To this day, Carlos appreciates John and has plans to reconnect with him in the near future.

Carlos and his family were placed in transitional housing after leaving the Union Rescue Misson. After Carlos witnessed a violent shooting just across the street from their living area, Carlos’s mother chose to move her family elsewhere.

The family endured a few more moves, but after approximately four years of instability, they were able to save enough money to live on their own permanently.

Carlos went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Central American Studies and in Psychology from Cal State Northridge. He then furthered his education by earning a master’s degree in Tourism, Hospitality, and Recreation Management from the same university. Now, his plan is to get his doctorate in Education.

Sep 14

Rise High Wins $10 Million With The Help Of School On Wheels

For Immediate Release:

LOCAL NONPROFIT’S EXPERTISE HELPS RISE HIGH WIN $10 MILLION

School on Wheels is honored to be part of the team that used their expertise in the education of homeless and foster youth to win $10 million for RISE High  XQ: The Super School Project, a high school redesign competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs.

LOS ANGELES – September 2016

School on Wheels would like to congratulate RISE High, one of ten  $10-million winning school projects nationwide. The proposed Los Angeles charter high school has been designed to serve homeless and foster children whose educations are frequently disrupted.  The idea being that instead of going to school, school will come to you.

Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels said, “We were proud to be able to use our knowledge and understanding of the impact of homelessness on children’s education as part of the grant application team for RISE High.   They will fill a great need by serving our same population in a full-time school program, and provide a model that other schools can use to better serve homeless and foster youth. That will certainly be an accomplishment!”

Natasha Bayus, Team Leader at School on Wheels and an expert in homeless education helped develop the RISE model and she sees a great need for a school devoted to the individual needs of homeless and foster youth:

“It was an honor being part of the grant application team for RISE, as part of the advisory committee, School on Wheels’ experience and expertise in dealing with homeless and foster youth was a major part of the design element.  We also have an after school learning center in the heart of Skid Row, so we see first hand the struggles our students face when it comes to attending regular school and keeping up with their peers.”

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ABOUT SCHOOL ON WHEELS School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately need. The heart of the School on Wheels’ program is the volunteer tutors who come from all backgrounds and professions, with a shared goal – to reach out to a child, to teach, to mentor, and assist in his or her educational life. The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Their program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear. School on Wheels brings the message to homeless students that they are cared about and important. They do this by offering:  One-on-one weekly tutoring with a volunteer / Backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms / Assistance in entering school / Help in locating lost records / Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children / Skid Row Learning Center / Tutoring in six counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

PRESS CONTACT School on Wheels, Inc. Sinead Chilton 805.641.1678schilton@schoolonwheels.org

To learn more about School on Wheels, volunteering or donating please visit: www.schoolonwheels.org