Lizzie Caldwell

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    I came to the East Oakland Youth Development Center when I was seven years old. It is amazing how fast the years have flown by. Thinking back to that time I see all happiness. When I first came to the Center I was a participant in the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP). This gave me the opportunity to really get familiar with the Center and see what other programs it had to offer. I remember going into the gym one day after the summer program. There I saw Sister Linda and the other dancers. It was funny because I found myself doing the dances they were doing when I went home. That is when I decided to join the Imhotep Dance Ensemble. I had a passion for dance and at the Center was where I could express it. Learning African dance was not very difficult for me. Sister Linda took us all over the bay area and we performed at many places. We also had our own dance concert every winter. I met a lot of new friends. I attended the Imhotep Dance Ensemble for five years. As the years progressed I decided that I was getting older and wanted to try something new because I was getting older.

    Also through the EOYDC, I went on a hiking trip to Yosemite National Park with the Big City Mountaineers (BCM). There we experienced how to really survive in the outdoors. Before that I had attended a camp called Camp Concord that was sponsored by Channel 7 News. This camp was more of a laid back, relaxed kind of camp. I attended this camp with a friend I met from African dance named Vantica.

    After I became too old to attend the summer program I applied for Youth Leader at the Center. Sister Jackie, the job trainer was very helpful in assisting me with this process. I went to all the Youth Leader trainings and the interview. My first year I was hired as an intern after the interview, but when I showed that I was capable of being a Youth Leader, I got a promotion. My second year I was hired as a Youth Leader and won awards for helping out the instructors of the SCEP.

    After the summer program ended I decided that I wanted to work during the school year as a tutor. I went for an interview and I was hired as an after school tutor in the EOYDC homework center. After working in the homework center for a couple of weeks, I went up to the computer lab and became very interested. I asked my coworker, Lanique, if there was space available and she recommended that I come in and get training on the computer lab procedures. Everyday I spent thirty minutes in the homework center and the rest of the time I was in the computer lab learning. I now am the Youth Computer Instructor.

    As I think of all the benefits I got from going to the EOYDC like meeting famous people, being in talents shows, and holding dance concerts, nothing compares to the love and support it gave me. Ms. Regina, the executive director, has been a tremendous help in leading me in the right path and I thank her and other staff.

    Moving forward, the Center will stay with me forever. My plans for the future are to go to college and major in computer technology which I will use to get into the medical field. With the help of the EOYDC, I know I will not fail.

    Thank you, EOYDC, I am happy to be “a part of the solution.”

    Lizzie Caldwell

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