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Success Stories

We are only as successful as the people we serve: Here are a few examples of grads who have turned their lives around.

Danny

witnessed murders, drive-by shootings and was regularly harassed by the police while growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood. He and his siblings were raised by a single mom whom Danny described as being very detached. His father – a Vietnam veteran – had become a heroin addict and died when Danny was a teenager. As he got older, all of Danny's closest friends got caught up in the neighborhood activity – winding up imprisoned for a variety of crimes. He escaped some of the turmoil when his mother enrolled him in schools in a quieter area on Los Angeles’ Westside. In middle school, he found himself enthralled when he participated in a media class. Through Streetlights, Danny has followed through on his passion for production and is now a Union Studio Electrical Lighting Technician.

Jesus

grew up in South Central L.A. and quickly realized he didn’t want to stay there. When Jesus was 12 years old his mother was left alone to raise four boys when he lost his dad. Getting to school each morning was a challenge in itself, saying that the fact that he was only beaten and robbed “3 times a year was good going.” Jesus took his first job while he was still in high school. With financial aid and grants Jesus managed to go to college, but had always yearned for a career in production. With a family of his own, he made ends meet working at Albertsons. He finally found Streetlights, and fulfilled his dream of joining the Camera Union.

Cheryl

grew up in a loving home with parents who tried to instill ambition and drive. Even so, her brother was sucked into the gang culture. Though she escaped the same fate, when she was a young girl her face was scarred in a terrible accident. Taunts and name-calling followed her from middle school to college. Cheryl was a single mother in a self-described “dead end job” when she discovered Streetlights.  After graduating, Cheryl was able to advance in her career and is now a Union Script Supervisor.

Andrea

grew up in a heavily gang and drug infested neighborhood of Los Angeles, which she refers to as “The Jungles.”  At age 6 Andrea recalls cowering on the floor as bullets ripped through the walls and windows of her family’s home. Her earliest memories of her father are of seeing him through the thick glass of a prison visitation room.  But her life took a major turn when at a very young age she had a daughter. She found her strength in trying to give her girl a better life, but became discouraged after many unsuccessful attempts at obtaining production jobs. She offered to work non-paying jobs to “get her foot in the door” with no results. Andrea was referred to Streetlights and since graduating, became one of our brightest graduates. As a Production Manager, she now works both in town and on location.

Omar

Growing up in Bell, CA, Omar joined a gang at a young age.  His brother became a victim of gang violence when he was only 18 and young Omar felt an eternal tie to the gang due to his brother’s death.  He felt that he was going to be part of his gang for life and was in and out of juvenile camps for years.  At the age of 22, Omar was sent to jail one last time.  He was sentenced to one year and suffered greatly thinking that he was going to miss out on a year of his new son’s life. He was afraid that his son would not even recognize him when he got out.  But his son didn’t forget him, and Omar realized he needed a change.  He was referred to Streetlights from Homeboy Industries.  During training Omar realized that he could overcome all the barriers in his past.  Receiving terrific reviews from his first day on the set, Omar has completed his eligibility days and become a proud new member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 728, the Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians Union.

Alisia

spent her youth in the tough Boyle Heights housing projects.  She had to become the protector of her younger siblings as her mother worked all hours and often didn’t bother to come home at night.  Because Alisia wanted out of that lifestyle she enlisted with the California Conservation Corps.  Upon her return, she learned that her brothers joined a gang and that she was no longer welcome at home.  She enrolled in general education at LACC, but had to drop out due to financial burdens.  Alisia believes that this “school of hard knocks” made her strong and independent, with a will to succeed.  Just four months after graduation she is one of our most requested production assistants.  Alisia has paid off more than $8,000 of debt, fraudulently accumulated by a family member, and saved $6,500 with a goal of buying her own duplex someday.