El Nido program helps teen acquire job skills to become successful business entrepreneur

“The best thing I can do, as Ghandi said, is to be the change you want to see in the world”

Joe C. was raised in the San Fernando Valley along with a younger brother and two sisters. Growing up, Joe was not a troubled kid, but he was a graffiti artist, and in high school he was put on probation for practicing his art in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Joe became a teen parent with a young daughter, he needed a job. El Nido had just received funding from the Harold Edelstein Foundation to conduct the “Harold Cares” Job Preparation Program, and Joe was in the first “Harold Cares” class.

Joe was fortunate to have Elizabeth, daughter of an El Nido Board Vice President, as his case manager. With Elizabeth, Joe was able to acquire perspective and a sense of self-worth; he learned how to make choices carefully instead of quickly, and to put himself in the shoes of others so he could better determine how to make intelligent, helpful compromises. The program, formally known as the Teen Parent at Work Program, enabled Joe to get his first job working for Kinko’s.

Joe is now in the world of advertising and marketing, and running his own successful small businesses consulting with others to enhance their position in the marketplace through the use of branding, websites and social media. Joe has been instrumental in organizing El Nido’s Alumni Association and in updating El Nido’s website. Joe someday would like to spend some time living in San Francisco or New York, and grow new chapters of his business. His daughter is now a teenager. Joe and his daughter’s mother, are no longer together as a couple, but are active “co-parents” in the best sense of the word. Both are intelligent, protective yet sensible parents, wise enough to give their daughter the freedom she needs to gain a sense of self-worth, to have her own voice, to be comfortable with the choices she makes, and to be a happy and caring person.

Joe would like those unfamiliar with El Nido to know that El Nido provides a place for growth, does great work for needy communities and fulfills the mission of its name, which is Spanish for “the nest.” From Joe’s experience with El Nido, he has learned that “The best thing I can do, as Ghandi said, is to be the change you want to see in the world.”