Since 1966, the Salesian Family Youth Center of Los Angeles—located within walking distance of more than 13,000 elementary, middle and high school students—has served the Boyle Heights and City Terrace communities by providing positive after-school activities and low-cost alternative programs for thousands of at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth between the ages of 6 and 18. For many years, The Dan Murphy Foundation has proudly supported the important mission of the Salesian Family Youth Center and in 2021 contributed almost $200,000 of support for their after-school care programs.
Here are a few amazing testimonials from those who have benefitted greatly from the life enriching efforts of the Salesian Family Youth Center.
Salesian Family Youth Center Staff & Camp Salesian Head Master
“After my ﬁrst day being there I fell in love – everyone had open arms welcoming me. I felt at home right away.”
This is how Brianna describes her ﬁrst day as a teen volunteer at Camp Salesian three years ago.
When asked what sets Salesian’s youth program apart she said, “You are not alone. As a teenager you are going through such tough times, you are navigating through this world, and you just don’t know who you are. Everything could be going wrong, but as soon as I walked in (to Salesian) I knew there was always someone there… making you feel at home.” Now a student at Cal State Long Beach, Brianna continues to be apart of the Salesian family. “The community here drew me in the most… I just feel different when I am at Salesian… there is a big need here, and if there is anything I can do to help that need, I want to.”
Today as a staff member for WeCare and Head Master for Camp Salesian, Brianna is now the one welcoming youth with open arms.
Boyle Heights Youth Movement Teen Leader & Oratory Volunteer
The Salesian Family Youth Center is guiding Cristina on her journey to empowerment. She joined our Boyle Heights Youth Movement/Youth Ministry in October 2019. She also volunteers in Oratory, giving up her Saturdays to guide young children in their personal growth.
Cristina said, “Being a part of the youth ministry, I opened up more. My ideas are heard and I feel more conﬁdent.”
Cristina also shared that prior to joining our programs, she did not see herself as being very religious. Now she wants to help spread the message in her own way, as best as she can. Her service through Oratory inspired her to be a Salesian Camp counselor this summer to continue to give back and do what she enjoys.
Striving to Heighten Outcomes and Uniting Teens
Jazmin is a Dreamer and a doer. She joined our SHOUT Program her freshman year – an undocumented, recent immigrant with no English skills and an eagerness to learn. She took advantage of our Tutoring and Language in Action Program and quickly reclassified from English Learner to Fluent English Proficient. Programs like our Outsiders Club introduced her to friends that became a second family. She participated in SHOUT’s tutoring and college prep programs diligently and her hard work paid oﬀ. She graduated last year and is attending UC Berkeley. Jazmin’s college acceptance letter is now framed and showcased in the SHOUT office, inspiring the next generation of Dreamers and doers.
WeCare Junior High
At Salesian Family Youth Center’s WeCare After School Program, students like Roberto can ﬁnd a fun, safe place with people that care about them. Middle school years are already challenging, even more so for Roberto who was bullied for his physical appearance and for being diﬀerent than others.
When our WeCare staff learned from Roberto’s friends that he was being bullied at school, they contacted his mother and helped her work with the school to address the issue. She is grateful for the Salesian Family Youth Center, and the peace of mind she has knowing that when Roberto is at WeCare, he is happy being himself.
My ﬁrst contact with the Salesian Family Youth Center was over two years ago when one of my friends invited me to be part of Camp Salesian as a counselor. At that time, I was not a religious person; my family are not churchgoers, I never saw myself even praying. The ﬁrst time I was exposed to prayer in one of our meetings I felt weird but my friend told me to try. I did, and I liked it. It is not that I am a churchgoer now, but I pray and know that I am not alone, and God loves me!
Staff – Club Member
“As a child, my parents would work long hours and therefore they decided to enroll me at the Salesian Boys and Girls Club in which I grew up from the age of 6 until I reached High School”
Juana Rodriguez describes her ﬁrst encounter with the Salesian Family and how she was raised being part of the after-school programs throughout her childhood. “Being part of the program shaped me and led me to become the person I am today, it kept me on the correct path to reaching success. After being gifted with such support, I wanted to give back and give my own support to children that are now in the place I was 10 years ago.”
The difference that the Salesians made in her life, led Juana to working at the Salesian Family Youth Center in the WeCare Program and supporting the kids the same way she was.