Empowering Our Young Westsiders
Updated: Sep 1
Our Westside youth, elders, and families deserve greater policy attention from our city. I’ve been focusing on this policy area during this campaign and, to date, I’m the only candidate for District 2 that includes such policies in their platform.
The policies that support our kids, our elders and our families should be a central focus for a city that seeks to empower the Westside. That’s why youth, elders, and family are a key part of my vision for the Westside (read more: VISION).
In particular, my passion for youth-focused initiatives comes from my own experience with YouthWorks, a NeighborWorks program where youth were taught the construction skills needed to help build a home for a low-income family. The dozen kids alongside me were all working with the job title “Community Builder” as this purposeful work was also designed to plant the seed of community in our way of thinking. It worked.
The house we built still stands on Pueblo Street in our Glendale neighborhood. I’ve taken each of my three sons to see that house and that youth project that inspired me to remain involved with NeighborWorks and building our community most of my adult life.
YouthWorks and NeighborWorks taught me the construction skills and social skills that helped me start my early career in the film industry. As I later worked in television production, I would spend time during our show’s hiatus volunteering at YouthWorks, giving back to our community and the young Community Builders finding their way.
As I started my family, I began volunteering even more with NeighborWorks and learning more about how homeownership drives community empowerment. As the first YouthWorks graduate to serve as President of NeighborWorks’ Board of Directors, I formed a YouthWorks alumni group to teach kids about stewardship of our natural resources while on overnight camps in Utah parks. I also worked with University Neighborhood Partners as a Neighborhood Ambassador and graduated from the Westside Leadership Institute.
These roles led to other projects and deeper involvement in our neighborhood. I worked with the Community Council Round Table, which became the Westside Coalition; I created a recycling education program targeting the Westside; and I registered voters door-to-door. I also became more engaged with our city government. Working alongside city planners and a team of neighbors, I was instrumental in creating the Westside Master Plan. I served on the Capital Improvements Program/CDBG Advisory Board, advocating for improvements in Westside recreation facilities, parks, and streets.
Mine is just one story how YouthWorks motivated and inspired me, but it shows the community impact such programs can have beyond one person. This is why youth programs, along with other policies centered on our youth, our elders, and our Westside families, matter so much to me. When we focus on people, we build community.