Sometimes VU has the wonderful opportunity to hear from students who participated in the early days of the program. At that time, it was a bit different in structure and served older students, but the goal of helping students succeed in school and life was the foundation then as it is now. Samantha Canalies, who now works for the Neighborhood Resource Center, is one of those former students. Here is what she remembers about VU and it’s influence:
I was 16 years old when I started going to Vecinos Unidos. I started attending because I learned I could get help with my studies. I was in high school, making bad decisions, hanging around with bad influences. Vecinos Unidos pulled me out from going onto that path by helping me stay focused on my studies. I was able to participate in the community by doing activities that would keep me busy and being to help others. I learned about Vecinos Unidos from the people that I was hanging around and they were also pulled from gangs. They gained a positive attitude about their future. Vecinos Unidos helped me open my eyes and taught me to make good decisions in my life. It taught me to believe in myself, that I was capable of reaching my goals. Vecinos Unidos prepared me to become a responsible adult by taking responsibility for my actions and what would suit me best for the future.
I highly recommend Vecinos Unidos to other children. It is a beneficial program not only for the child but also for the parent.