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From a community member mom:

Cypress is definitely not like it used to be. It was ugly; there were a lot of gangs here. You couldn’t go out at night and in the morning, you couldn’t walk outside because there were people ready to rob you. I’ve lived here for 20 years and it is better because LOT318 is here. They are a part of our community! There are no more gangs and drunks, and it’s cleaner now! I feel safer now! We have seen and lived through a lot of positive changes here in our community!

LOT318 is special because we get to see and do more things. We have fun together! I feel that my kids are safe with LOT318 and they come back better because of their involvement. I have seen a tremendous change in my son because he wasn’t on the right path. But thanks to LOT318’s programs, Letty, and all of the advice that was given to him, he changed.

I see that the volunteers are helping and teaching our kids well. They have confidence in them and have helped us tremendously! They have helped out in our apartments by cleaning up, painting, cement work, yard work, etc. LOT318 has helped us with many things. We’ve gone to the city and done things for our community at City Council Meetings. It is important to go to those meetings because I can help my community more!

LOT318 is good and there is change happening here!

From a high school male LOT318 student, who became a student volunteer:

I have been with LOT318 for my whole life! I saw my brother doing things with [LOT318 and] the other kids and I wanted to join once I got old enough! I’ve done homework club, a LOT of fun events like going to Skyzone, the aquarium, and more. My favorite was the time I got Student of the Year [in LOT318’s Homework Club program] and we went to Seaworld! That was my first time going to an amusement park and on my first roller coaster!

For me, LOT318 is a free environment where we can all just be friends and we can talk to one another, if we need help. I love interacting with the students, because I want to have the same impact on the kids like the other volunteers had on me. LOT318 is unique because doing homework doesn’t seem like it’s helping us out, but the volunteers make a difference because [we] have fun while doing homework. Good habits start with doing homework!

I just want to help my community a lot more, and that is why being a police officer is what I want to be when I grow up! I want to help my community, but on a bigger scale! I just want to try to make a difference in my community, and growing up here encourages me to be a police officer. LOT318 told me about the Placentia Police Department’s Explorer’s program and I looked into it and liked it!

LOT318 opened up a whole other world for me LOT318 helped me open my heart to Jesus. I am also interacting with kids and volunteers and more people that I didn’t know. Knowing more people is important, because everyone has their own backstory, and by knowing them, it helps you know their story and I can probably help out. I know that there are other people who are trying to help out, like I am. This area is known to be bad, but this particular street is getting a better reputation now.

What would you say to someone who wants to get involved with LOT318?

  1. Students/family: They should join! It helps you out physically and mentally with homework, and you get rewarded with toys and fun! You get to do your homework and learn about Jesus! Just try it for a little it. It doesn’t cost you anything’ it’s completely free! It’s fun – I have really enjoyed it!
  2. Volunteers: It’s a new experience. Tutoring seems hard, people see it as a “smart-person only job”, but it’s not! You just help out the kids whenever they need it, trying to talk to them, or relieving the stress that they have on homework, if they have trouble.

I used to not appreciate anything. I used to think Homework Club was everywhere, but knowing that it’s here [in my neighborhood], I’m starting to appreciate all of the memories I had here and all the fun and everything that LOT318 has done for us.

From a female, the first student to complete 1st – 12th grade with LOT318, now a college freshman:

I’ve been involved with LOT318 since the beginning. My brother was a part of the high school serve team, and I got to see LOT318 love on them! All of the activities that were brought here made me want to be a part of it. I came to Homework Club regularly and was even student of the year in 3rd grade! I got to go to Disneyland, and it was so special knowing that I had worked so hard and that some leaders saw something in me and chose me to go!

I was a part of Homework Club, summer programs, any fun activity or adventure that LOT318 would go on! We’d go anywhere! As a high school student, I became a volunteer because I was given so much love and wanted to show my appreciation through being a volunteer.

LOT318 means family to me. with LOT318, I have a lot of people on my side and they’ve never turned their back on me. LOT318 has helped me grow as a person by helping me to find my voice! It helped me grow spiritually, directing me to church; I have become a strong person, overcoming a whole bunch of struggles with the help of God! I’ve managed to pull through anything that comes my way. I’m not going to let anything stop me!

I have grown academically because my mom and siblings couldn’t help me with my homework, so thanks to LOT318, I made it through elementary school! I want to get a degree. It will be so cool to be the first one in my family to go to college. Just hearing the talk of college come up all the time has been motivation! LOT318 is unique because of the way they stick with you and by being consistent in a child’s life. The whole aspect of LOT318 is unique by starting a program in a neighborhood that is opposite of what it is today. It has brought the community together to stick together. I was able to grow, starting from the very bottom and having the opportunity to experience giving back what was given to me and being able to learn so much from different people!

LOT318 has been like a “sprinkle of glitter” on my life and on my family. It has connected us with other important things in life, like church and work. Many of the pieces of the puzzle of our lives have come together through LOT318.

From a male, one of the first teens to transform his life with LOT318

Growing up, my life was hard. I spent 75% of my life here [on Cypress Street]. At the age of 14, though never joining the gang, I was affiliated. I was hanging out with them, doing drugs, and I got my first arrest. It was a down spiral. There was no love with my family, and I was never accepted anywhere until I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. That’s when we started doing everything: graffiti, drugs, fighting, all of that. I was addicted. I didn’t care about anyone. Nobody cared for me, so why would I care for others. I was in your face. If you didn’t give me respect, I demanded it from you. But all that changed when I was 16.

Letty was just a random person. She asked to bat in our game of street softball, lost our ball, and came back the next day with a baseball bat and a bag full of balls! We just began hanging out. that’s when I started realizing that it was a whole different world of people who don’t judge us. We had a community. There’s two worlds colliding and no judgment. Letty and LOT318’s persistence showed through: “I’m here for you guys. I want to hang out with you guys. I want to know you guys. We’re going to hang out. It doesn’t matter who you are, we’re going to bring you in. Let’s go.” Letty was real. Crazy, but real. She was there for me. She meant it when she said “I’m going to be there with you.” She means it. She’s here. She’s sitting with me for my court sessions. She doesn’t know me, and she’s giving me a reference letter. If it weren’t for Letty showing that love, I wouldn’t be here. Letty continued to water seeds that had been planted. She fought for us.

At 17, I accepted Christ. My addiction was gone, the respect I was craving went away, my anger was no longer there. Forgiveness was growing. About 6 months later, some gang members surrounded me and tried to provoke me into a fight. But a random woman pulled up and asked if I was okay. One day I came to high school hungover. I got in trouble and they said I had to leave school. Letty and the assistant principal started talking about my involvement at Friends Church and the assistant principal went to bat for me with the district! I ended up not getting suspended! People were fighting for me. It completely changed my outlook. I realized there was a bigger picture. If it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t have finished high school because He sent many people to help me get through.

I was a part of LOT318’s Homework Club when it started. I was in high school, and I started believing I could do so much more through the encouragement from Letty and the Service Team. I finished high school, while volunteering with Homework Club, and after, I didn’t know what was next. Letty encouraged to think about college. We looked at colleges and trade programs and took kids on college campuses for tours! I applied and ended up going to Santiago Canyon College. I was challenged, and people believed in me. LOT318 asked me to be in charge of Homework Club, and I was blown away. I started fully grasping the bigger picture. I felt the most alive when we served. I felt more at peace because I realized its not all about me. I didn’t bring much to the table other than myself, and when I could believe in myself, I could go full steam ahead and help kids in ways others couldn’t. I rose to many challenges because I had been at the bottom and knew there was only one way to go. LOT318 is more than what we do, it’s about loving others for who they are without judgment and helping them in any way we can.

My whole family has been with LOT318 from the very beginning. My family jut became a part of it; they go together. LOT318 has changed my family and we serve together. Now, I have better relationships with my family. We had our first family vacation! My dad saw the changes in me, he decided that he wanted what I had too! His life changed because my life changed. I want to influence others to change. Through LOT318, I’m finally comfortable being myself and not someone I’m not supposed to be.

I’m going to college now. LOT318 sponsored my education for 6 years! I have a certificate from a trade school. I applied to Cal Poly Pomona and was accepted. I’m the first in my family who will obtain a degree! It’s insane, but its all tied back to being challenged. Letty kept pushing me to do so many things and she loved me for who I was, gave me a chance. She saw a leader in me when I couldn’t. I want to leave any place better than I found it, be the best at whatever I do. But I know that if I come up short, it’s okay, because I did my best and God has the final say.

I want to use my position to help others, and to be a bridge for people to better themselves. LOT318 is different because they do what they say. It’s in our name: Loving Others in Truth. Even when its hard. LOT318 really cares and builds all kinds of different connections. It builds relationships and keeps relationships. LOT318 is a safe place and it’s unified. It’s a good place to be, to develop leadership skills, to experience opportunities bigger than yourself. This is the place to be involved, serve, and give.

I became who I am because of LOT318.