Meet Maria

When a friend recommended PUENTE Learning Center as a welcoming environment to learn and grow, Maria did not realize at first what a difference that would make. She is currently enrolled in Career Skills classes and her children both attend PUENTE Charter Elementary School. From her first day at PUENTE, “everything felt different,” says Maria. Her children had a fun, stable place to go with guaranteed access to three meals daily and after school care. Maria especially cherished the opportunity to attend the school’s theatrical performances—an opportunity to see her children excel in the arts. In Maria’s own classes, she had attentive instructors who helped her gain the language and professional skills needed to get a raise at work.

When COVID-19 hit, Maria’s family was sharing one cell phone for all their digital needs. PUENTE staff members lent both of Maria’s children laptops for high-quality distance learning. For months, the family was food insecure, and they took advantage of PUENTE’s free distributions of fresh produce. “The weekly box of food made such a difference in my family’s life. Times have been hard, and everything helps,” says Maria. Remarkably, Maria is just one of over 110,000 Angelenos whose lives were changed through PUENTE over these past 35 years.