Tag: In The News

Jan 9

Angela Sanchez, a blossoming L.A. writer, was once homeless – L.A. Times

Scruffy Dog of the children’s book “Scruffy and the Egg” was not always scruffy. He used to have well-groomed chestnut fur and a bright blue collar with a shiny gold tag. He used to be Fluffy Dog.

In her debut as an author and illustrator, L.A. native Angela Sanchez tells the story of the dog’s transformation as he loses his family and home, navigates life on the streets and befriends and adopts a lost egg.

The cohesive, expressively drawn book, which Sanchez crowdfunded and self-published last year, has a surprisingly optimistic tone considering its exploration of difficult circumstances and homelessness.

The book is also partly autobiographical.

 

Sanchez, 26, grew up in Glendale, where she shared a two-bedroom apartment with her father, an architectural draftsman by trade.

For a single dad with no safety net, familial support or four-year degree, the Great Recession was a devastating financial earthquake.

Sanchez was a junior at Herbert Hoover High School in fall 2007 when an eviction notice appeared on the door of her apartment. A week before Thanksgiving, police officers came knocking.

“At the time I didn’t fully understand what the prospect of going homeless meant,” Sanchez recalls. “My dad had lived in that apartment for 25 years. I had lived there all my life. It was home. To lose it was a big blow.”

Sanchez and her father spent the 2007 holiday season hopping from one motel to another. By January their credit ran out and they landed in an emergency church shelter. The rules of the shelter were strict and comforts minimal. They slept on military-style cots a few feet from strangers. There was no privacy, no shower and no breakfast.

The high school junior kept her homelessness a secret from everyone at school except a supportive principal and a handful of advisors who helped her with her college admissions essay.

“I didn’t tell my teachers because I wanted to be treated like every other student,” she says. “I didn’t want to drag homelessness with me into the classroom. At school I got to be the smart kid. That was my identity. I didn’t have to worry about anything else.”

On the weekends, Sanchez and her father had nowhere to go during the long hours when the shelter was closed.

You don’t realize how much time you spend in your home until you don’t have one anymore.Angela Sanchez

Aug 14

For Homeless Children, Lessons In Stability – 500Pens.org

Story by Susan Hoffmann
Photos by Gina Long

Every Wednesday, Lisa Rodriguez drives to a homeless shelter to tutor *Alma. When the weather’s nice, they sit outside on the wide front porch. “She likes to do science projects, so it’s perfect to be outdoors.”

Rodriguez is a tutor for the Los Angeles-based nonprofit School on Wheels. She’s one of roughly two thousand volunteers working with a nearly invisible population: children growing up homeless.

“These children are at an unimaginable disadvantage,” said Catherine Meek, executive director of School on Wheels. “Their families may move two or three times a year, uprooting the children, causing gaps in their learning.” School on Wheels removes barriers that keep these children out of school — tracking down lost records needed to enroll, filling backpacks with school supplies, and providing weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions.

Volunteer tutors are at the heart of their program. Rigorously screened, they agree to a minimum one-year commitment. School on Wheels then matches them with a student, based on the volunteer’s skills and the needs of the student. “We know the better the match,” said  Meek, “the greater the long-term success.”

Mona Tse, another School on Wheels volunteer, has tutored 15-year-old *Martin for two years. Once a week, she leaves work and walks to the public library down the street.

“Mona helps me in stuff I need help in,” Martin said of his tutor. “She puts a lot of effort to help me strive.”

His school recommended the program to his mother as a way to keep him on track. His grades have improved with tutoring and he’s found acceptance at school. “I was just elected to the Associated Student Body,” he said. “I get to set up fun activities like pep rallies and dances.”

This family had a specific need. “We didn’t have the internet,” Martin’s mother explained. They came to the library for a connection but still couldn’t keep up. “If you missed an online assignment or teacher report, you might slip behind by weeks.”

“Teachers assume you have electronics,” Martin said. “And if you tell them you don’t have them, they don’t believe you.”

For homeless families, acquiring the materials and skills to succeed in a digital learning environment is crucial for a child’s success. Many schools, like the one Martin attends, are setting aside textbooks, with their printed examples and worksheets, in favor of homework posted online. With Tse’s help, the family has become savvy with technology. “Mona has helped us stay on track. I’m so grateful for that,” said Martin’s mother.

Tse admitted her good luck being matched with Martin, who comes every week, eager to learn. She had volunteered before, she said, in high school and college, but had taken a break to establish her career. “I was itching to get back into the community,” she said. “I know I can only do so much, but having this impact on the community to help people, that’s something I wanted to be a part of.”

Last year, School on Wheels sent their volunteers to libraries and shelters and public places to tutor more than three thousand students across Southern California. But this effort is only part of a solution to a mounting emergency in this region, where rising rents and stagnant incomes are driving more people from their homes.

Read the full story from 500Pens.org here.

Jul 22

Guinness World Record Event News Stories

  • Our official certificate from our previous Guinness World Record

On Saturday, June 27th, 2015, School on Wheels attempted to set the Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of people dressed as Albert Einstein.” The event took place at the California Science Center. We created quite a stir as hundreds of people, dressed in white wigs/mustaches and suits, gathered to create a new world record. A huge thank you to our official time keepers and witnesses: Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph; Ron Rohovit, Director of Education of the California Science Center; Emily Hunt, Ventura Unified School District Science Teacher; and Benny Wasserman (Einstein lookalike, Author and Actor). We would also like to thank our event sponsors: Property Management Associates, Instantly, Southwest Airlines, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, Lynn Gardner & Paul Multari Charitable Fund, Principal Communications Group, Clothes the Deal and Goodwill.

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein

Founder of School on Wheels Agnes Stevens, who passed away earlier this year, loved Albert Einstein! Her reason was not only that he was a genius but that he had curly hair, like hers. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s presentation of the complete Theory of General Relativity to the Prussian Academy. In honor of Agnes and Albert, School on Wheels decided to attempt this record.

In 2013 School on Wheels created a New Guinness World Record for the longest line of backpacks by lining up over 2,700 in a row. We’re still waiting to hear if we are official record breakers this year but if not, our amazing team has the dedication and commitment to try again next year!  Stay tuned…

We were hoping to attract media attention with this event, but we weren’t quite expecting the global coverage it received. Please check out the news coverage below and thank you again to all our volunteers, students, staff, supporters and friends for making this event truly record breaking!

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