Greg Bradbard, CEO of the Inland Empire United Way, writes a monthly column in the Foothills Reader supplement to the L.A. Times.  Last month his article focused on Bright Prospect alumna Kaylee Juarez as an example of the success brought about by the IEUW’s support of its grantees in the region.  Bright Prospect is honored to be one of the IEUW’s partners.  Here is the article Greg wrote:

Foothills Reader Submission for March 29, 2015

Making Dreams Come True By Gregory Bradbard, President & CEO, Inland Empire United Way

“When I was a child, I remember being homeless for about 5 months. With my mom, dad, and siblings, we lived in a van. KayleeWhen we finally got an apartment, we had no money for furniture. So we made a dinner table out of a box. We would sit on the floor, and would sleep on the floor.”

Kaylee, the young woman who recently shared her story with me, grew up in Pomona and was a participant in the Bright Prospect program. Bright Prospect is one of the many outstanding local organizations funded by United Way that is working to build brighter futures for local kids.

Kaylee continued to share how her mother worked two jobs and had to leave her children at home alone. With little to eat, they often ate just bread and coffee. She recounted looking forward to going to school, simply to get a full meal.

It was in third grade, after being teased by other kids for having holes in her clothes, that she realized she was living in poverty.

But Kaylee is an incredible example of resilience. With the guidance and inspiration of Bright Prospect, she graduated from high school and set her sights high. Kaylee is now a graduate of UC Berkeley, is the first in her family with a college degree, and she is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Work at USC.

“It just takes one person. I want to be a guide to young people, like me, who are struggling. I want to be able to come back and give to my community,” said Kaylee.

Kaylee teachingIt is my honor to work with exemplary organizations like Bright Prospect. We know that there are literally thousands of children in our backyard who are facing challenges like those faced by Kaylee and her family.

Fortunately, stories like this remind me that we truly can make dreams come true. As Kaylee shared, “If not for your help, I believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now and able to follow my dreams.” To see Kaylee’s video interview or learn more, visit http://www.IEUW.org.

Photo Caption: Former homeless Pomona student, Kaylee, now a UC Berkeley graduate.

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