I met Tai Collins at a homeless shelter in Boyle Heights, California.
Tai came to the shelter and planned weekend outings for the children that lived there. Not only did Tai set up these outings but she also developed a “camp program” in which minors spent a whole week at Pepperdine University. Without a doubt Tai used all her resources, time, energy, network of friends, and acquaintances to bring the best programs to the children.
The programs Tai brought to children have made a lasting impression in their young lives. Countless children have benefited in many ways as some have discovered the ability to swim, the ability to believe in themselves, the ability to talk in front of large groups, and the list goes on and on.
On a personal level, I have been forever changed by meeting Tai. As a child growing up in East Los Angeles there was a lack of programs that fostered my self-esteem and lack of activities that could have consumed my free time. That is why I felt committed to Tai and her program because what she was doing was help kids move in a positive direction.
Tai and A Chance for Children presented me with a scholarship that assisted in my college education. The scholarship was of great help and allowed me to be the first college graduate in my family.
Also through her program, I was able to go on trips to places out of the state of California. Having little travel experience, I found out about the joys of traveling. I enjoy traveling so much now, that I ventured out on my own to distant countries such as Indonesia, Europe and Central America.
Working with children is very personal to me because it has allowed me to give to others what has been lacking in my own life. While working with Tai, I began to develop both patience and leadership skills one needs to work with children. This has been very much my career, as I have worked with children in a group-home setting, a substitute teacher and a volunteer with “A Chance for Children.”
Currently I work as a Deputy Probation Officer with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, a position I have held for the past six years. Having worked in the juvenile halls and camps for Los Angeles County, I come to see how programs such as Tai’s are very critical in the young lives of today’s youth.
On October 2008, my first born infant daughter was born. There is no doubt that as my child grows up I will try and replicate some of the activities, mannerisms, and thoughts that Tai has brought to the many young lives.
This letter serves little justice as to the many positive experiences Tai has brought to children and my personal relationship with her. There are the many people that devote countless hours of work to ensure the program’s success. However, I truly believe that Tai is the core of the program and without her the program, I would not be where it is today.
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