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November 29, 2012 / HandsOnCorps

At the end of the day…by Pricila Novoa

My name isPricila Novoa_Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica Pricila Novoa, AmeriCorps VISTA member serving at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. I work at two low-income housing apartment complexes, which are satellite sites of the club. The kids usually come to the community room after school and get to work on their homework and hangout with the other kids. Being here has been very challenging but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. This is the first time I’ve worked with children, and have discovered that I love it. One of the most rewarding experiences has been getting to know these kids better and having them open up to me. At one of the sites, Berkeley Branch, the kids are primarily elementary and middle school-aged kids, whereas Pacific Branch has some elementary and more middle and high school kids.

With Halloween, the girls at Berkeley Branch spent weeks practicing a dance routine that they would perform in front of their parents. Everything was their idea, from the Justin Bieber shirts they wore to the dance moves themselves. At Pacific Branch they did something a little different. We had Jessica, a volunteer and local teacher come in and paint our faces for the “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) celebration. She did an amazing job! She took her time and got very creative with all of the designs. The kids did not want to get their faces painted at first so we got one of our volunteers to get painted first. When they saw how beautiful it was, they all got excited and wanted to get their faces painted, but only if the staff promised to do the same. The branch director, Joe, had another staff member named Antelma get her face painted first because we all thought she would back down. When it came time to choosing who was next, Joe and I couldn’t find a way to resolve the matter so we ended up playing rock-paper-scissors to decide. I won so Joe had to go first. It was truly a fun day and after work we went to Santa Monica High School (the local high school), where there was artwork and a performance in celebration of this day. Everyone on the street thought we were crazy since Halloween was the day before and here we were with painted faces.

At the end of the day the thing I love most about working at the Boys & Girls Club is that no matter what, our priority is always to have programs for the kids. A single smile from a child can brighten even the gloomiest day. Service at this level is the best….

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