Teen mom gets help with parenting, earns degree and becomes successful business entrepreneur

“El Nido offers you hope and faith even when you may not be able to have it on your own. I am grateful. I am blessed to be an El Nido alumnus”

Xiomara discovered El Nido Family Centers at a critical time in her life. “I was 16 years old, still in high school, and three months pregnant. When I notified the school nurse that I was pregnant, she referred me to El Nido.” A couple of days later, Xiomara’s case manager, Jennifer, came knocking at her front door. “El Nido, or as I like to call it, my second home, gave me faith in myself. El Nido has changed my life in drastic ways.”

The first program Xiomara participated in was El Nido’s Adolescent and Family Life Program (AFLP), which included parenting classes, youth workforce development and case management. Jennifer also connected Xiomara with vital resources and services for her and her son, such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which helped them obtain food. “At sixteen and a single parent coming from a low-income household, I needed all of the resources I could get. Jennifer was also there for me when I needed to vent about the hardships I was faced with being a single parent and a student. Jennifer always assured me everything was going to be okay and that I would flourish if I continued to work hard and believe in myself.”

Xiomara graduated from Chatsworth High School with Honors and graduated California State University, Northridge (CSUN) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management. She funded her college education through various scholarships, including scholarships from El Nido. While a college student, Xiomara interned at both the Los Angeles Sixth Council District Office and two years later with the Office of the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles.

Today she works for a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization where she serves as the Southern California Outreach Coordinator. “The work I do involves communicating the needs of America’s entrepreneurs through the media and other channels, advocating for smart public policy to ensure small business success, and making a special effort to focus on the growth of entrepreneurship among women and in communities of color,” Xiomara explains.

She is also the proud mother of two boys. “I want to embody success. I don’t want them to see me struggle, like I saw my parents struggle financially. I want them to give back to the community, never to only take and take. I also want them to understand the value of education and how important it is to continue with your post-secondary education.”

Xiomara was one of the founding members of the El Nido Alumni Association and is the chair for the Alumni Executive Committee. She has received two awards from El Nido Family Centers: the Leading the Way Award in 2009 and the Champions Award in 2014. “One has to wonder, how is it that a community organization like El Nido has been around for 90 years? Well it is because the leadership is passed on to clients. Not only do programs offer case management, but they also offer the opportunity to make a difference in your life, the community and even the world. El Nido taught me to believe in myself when I was a timid 16-year-old girl. I need to give back to the community that I was once a part of in order to empower other young women and young men to change their lives for the better. I am only one of the living examples of how programs like this positively impact society. I didn’t become a burden on the welfare system, I was able to obtain help and resources temporarily when I truly did need them and they provided value. I learned to survive, and to give back.

“I will always be indebted to the organization for everything they have done for me. Many of the values I carry derive from El Nido. When I was a young student, timid and frightened at times, and thought about giving up simply because of all the pressure, I thought about all of my mentors at El Nido who would be disappointed if I didn’t continue with my education — and that is what El Nido does, it offers you hope and faith even when you may not be able to have it on your own. I am grateful. I am blessed to be an El Nido alumnus.”