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October 2020

Pomona Hope

Student Spotlight: Isaac Ramos and Erick Rojas

By: Jessica Reid (Media & Development Intern)  

Isaac draws while sitting outside at After School with Pomona Hope

This year has been one of transition, but Pomona Hope remains dedicated to supporting the youth of our community. We are excited to still offer our After School program and an all-new Online Enrichment program to continue encouraging students and investing in their futures. With safety measures in place, a limited number of students attend the After School program in-person, and many others join in the virtual Online Enrichment program.  

Each day after school, Isaac Ramos goes to the in-person After School program and then stays to attend Online Enrichment workshops as well. A third grader who has been in Pomona Hope for a couple years now, Isaac’s favorite part of After School is eating the snack. “They always get good food,” he says. 

Isaac says the program mostly feels the same, but one new workshop he enjoys is Dance. Socially distanced in the courtyard, the students follow along with the dance moves of the workshop leader and watch videos of dancers. Isaac was also excited to talk about the Garden workshop, “I really like the garden, it’s fun!”

After study time and workshops at After School, Isaac logs onto a computer in time to join the Online Enrichment workshops like STEM, Bible Study, and Language Arts. His favorite virtual game is “Kahoot,” a trivia competition in which students answer multiple choice questions about a given topic as quickly as they can. 

Meanwhile from home, Erick Rojas looks forward to logging on to Online Enrichment each day after school, and says his favorite part is seeing all the volunteers.

Erick hopes for a time when school and other events are once again in-person, but for now he is having fun with this new way to interact with his peers. A long-time member of Pomona Hope, seventh-grader Erick has always enjoyed Pomona Hope’s programs and community. “Each year more people come, and each year I make new friends,” he says. 

Students at Online Enrichment with Pomona Hope are first moved into Zoom breakout rooms for homework help from volunteers, but they can return to the main session to play virtual games if they finish early. Erick’s current favorite game to play with other Pomona Hope students is “Among Us,” a mafia-style game all the kids are loving. 

After study or game time, students enter breakout rooms for workshops divided by grade level. Erick’s favorite workshop right now is Civics, led by long-time volunteer Rusty Beith, who is teaching the students about the elections. “It gives a lot of information we might need,” Erick  says. They learn something new each Thursday, discussing topics like what makes a good candidate and why we vote.

Pomona Hope is deeply grateful and excited to be able to continue engaging with students through both new and familiar channels, and we hope you’ll take this adventure with us. There is still space in After School (in-person) and Online Enrichment with Pomona Hope for K-12 students, please reach out for more information if you would like to volunteer or enroll!  

Parent Spotlight: Araceli Arcellano

By: Jessica Reid  

Araceli Arcellano, Isaac Ramos’ mom, is glad her son can attend Pomona Hope’s programs at this time. When asked how it has been to have school online, she says it is nice not having to rush out of the house in the morning, but overall, it has been challenging for both her and Isaac.  

Araceli feels it is important for Isaac to connect with other students. Her other two kids are twenty-one and twenty-six, so Pomona Hope provides a great way for him to still be around those close to his age. “I just want him to have that interaction,” she says. 

Araceli says that things have been stressful, but her family has been ok. She radiates gratitude, joy, and strength even through a Zoom interview. While still being honest about the difficulties of the time, Araceli has a confident peace about her. When asked if she has any concerns about Isaac, she replied, “I just put him in God’s hands.” I was moved by her faith, writing down her words with a smile. 

In the brief time I spent talking to her, I could tell Araceli’s easy sense of humor and love for her family are a source of light to those around her. She good-naturedly helped me prompt answers from Isaac as he got used to talking to someone he hadn’t met before. She smiled and laughed often, affectionately smoothing her son’s hair every once in a while.

Speaking with Araceli gave me a window into the values that keep the Pomona Hope community so strong. She models a commitment to acknowledging real problems with honesty, but with a worldview that is ultimately guided by a focus on hope, faith, and the assurance of a brighter future.   

Intern Spotlight: Taylor Nicholson

Interview by: Jessica Reid  

Q: How long have you been involved with Pomona Hope and in what capacities?  

A: This is my first year working at Pomona Hope, I have been placed here as a Social Work Intern for my final year of Undergraduate Studies at Azusa Pacific University. My role as Social Work Intern is focusing on the social and emotional health of the children, providing resources and assessing the needs of the children/family and the program, and the role continues to grow more as we move along in the year. 

Q: How is school going for you and what are your goals/plans in that area? 

A: I am currently finishing up my final year of Undergrad!! I am a Social Work major which has been hard but so pleasing work. I love my major and I am looking forward to being able to be in the field within the next year. My goal is to end up working in the nonprofit world, I would like to open my own non-profit that serves disadvantaged youth serving communities that are highly populated with people of color.

Q: What is your favorite part about being involved with Pomona Hope?

A: I think so far one of my favorite parts has been developing a bond and familiarity with the children in the program. I will have the opportunity to be here for the whole year which gives me the opportunity to grow with the kids and learn more about them and discover who they are and build relationships with them, which is so exciting. I think another thing that has been my favorite part is being involved in the community, I love the work that I do because I love people, I love community, I know that when you invest in community and you invest in people there is opportunity for it to grow and become sustainable. Being a part of an organization that is invested in its people, in its community is enlightening and motivating. 

Q: What are you looking forward to this year (in terms of Pomona Hope or otherwise)?

A: I am looking forward to graduating college!! In terms of Pomona Hope I am looking forward to seeing how my role as Social Work intern develops as well as seeing how the program and the kids will grow moving forward.

Q: Could you talk a little about your faith and how that impacts your desire to be involved in social work and/or Pomona Hope?

A: My faith impacts my call to Social Work because I believe it is connected to my purpose. I believe that the Lord has called me to this work of helping people, it is not an easy job and only a few can do this work and I believe the passion, drive, resilience and desire to serve and love for not only Him but for His people is what has brought me here.

We are grateful to the Magistro Family Foundation for their many years of partnership including a recent $25,000 grant to support our After School Program! Thank you for investing in the youth and families of Pomona!  

Prayer Requests

1) Please pray for our students' mental and physical health as they continue to confront the challenges of online & distance learning.  

2) Pray that God would provide for Pomona Hope families, as some have reduced hours or have lost work during the pandemic.

3) Praise for a strong start to the school year with plenty of volunteer help and many new and returning students. Praise God that our students and staff have all stayed safe and healthy thus far. 

Join us for our annual Fundraising and Awareness Gala online on November 19th at 6:00pm PST! Zoom opens at 5:30pm and the event begins at 6:00pm. The event is free to everyone, so please invite your friends and family to hear from our students, board members, and Executive Director Jeff Johannsen. Bring your dinner and join us at:
Araceli poses for a picture while picking up her son, Isaac, from After School with Pomona Hope
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In-Kind Donation Requests

Pomona Hope gladly accepts in-kind donations! Please find a complete list of current and on-going needs on our website here.  

Access the Archive!

Discover Pomona Hope's extensive history by accessing our newsletter archive!  These hand-selected stories are just a small part of what God is doing at Pomona Hope. Check the archive out! 

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Pomona Hope · 401 N. Gibbs St. · Pomona, CA 91767 · USA