El Nido Family Centers // July 2012 Newsletter
A Message from our Executive Director




It is hard to believe that El Nido Family Centers is celebrating its 87-year Anniversary.  In this issue, I am excited to highlight our pilot Mentorship program and introduce a very special group of folks from our Alumni Committee. We are highlighting two members in this issue and you can look forward to meeting other members and hearing their about their lives in our future e-newsletters. I hope their stories are as inspiring for you as they are for me.


Please visit our website to learn more about us and how you might get more involved.


Thank you,

Liz Herrera     
El Nido in the News

Mentorship Program Successfully Created in Partnership with Grifols Biologicals Inc., CSULA, CSUN and El Nido Family Centers

CSULA Logo CSUN logo    


With more interested participants than we could take in the first year, the Mentorship program matched up forty-seven 11th and 12th grade El Nido clients in the South Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley regions with students from California State University of Los Angeles and California State University

of Northridge for a period of six months.  The goal was for mentors to provide academic and social support to mentees in achieving high school graduation, preparation for college admission and ultimately increasing their chances of obtaining a post-secondary degree.


Mentees met weekly with their mentors and focused on goal planning, time management, college admission requirements, scholarship applications, academic tutoring, career planning, researching majors, budgeting, life skills and community college entrance exams.  The mentees also participated in monthly workshops targeting college, career, and financial aid.


We are grateful for the partnerships with Grifols Biologicals Inc., CSULA and CSUN in making this program possible!

Grifols Alumni Committee Visit
Executive Director Liz Herrera, mentees from El Nido's Mentorship program, Alumni Committee Co-Chairs and staff are dressed for a tour of the facility where life-saving protein therapies are produced. 
Meet El Nido's
New Alumni Committee


Our dynamic Alumni Committee includes nine former clients who are college graduates and/or are currently in college. They are excellent representatives of the agency and role models for current clients. The alumni speak to client groups on a regular basis, serving as role models for what teens can achieve with commitment and support. They are inspirational and passionate advocates for our services. We are delighted to introduce the Co-Chairs and their stories. 


Alumni Group4


After years of living in a dysfunctional and abusive household with my father, my mother filed for divorce. Witnessing a father who used to drink and come home to use his strength against my mother marked my life forever. After my parents' divorce, the violence from my father toward my mother increased tremendously. My mother, trying to cope with my father's abuse along with the new challenges of being a single mother, brought stress to everyone in the family.


Eleven months after their separation, and tired of my father's harassment, my mother moved to California. Deprived from my mother's love and attention, and being victimized by her abuse led me to flee. At the age of 14, I became the mother to a beautiful girl and El Nido Family Centers subsequently became a part of my life.


During that time, I felt that I only had one person in my support system:  my case manager. She taught me how to advocate for myself and inspired me to set goals for my future. Through this, I was able to work-full time while pursuing my bachelor's degree, and raising my two children, now ages 16 and 8.   My daughter is doing very well at school. She is preparing to pursue her higher education. My son is an excellent student who often brings home certificates stating his academic achievements.  Currently, I am a Master of Social Work student and a member of El Nido's Mentorship program, a pilot program that helps El Nido clients prepare for and succeed in college.




I grew up in Los Angeles and was raised by my mother who was not only a single parent but a teen parent as well. My mother worked very hard to provide for me. Although she made little money she made up for it by always showing me a great amount of love and attention. During my school years, I was always an honor student. However, my life changed when I learned that I was pregnant at the age of fifteen. I was scared and confused. I was worried about disappointing my mother who obviously did not want me to be a teen parent. I was also concerned about what my family members would think.


With the assistance of El Nido, the Adolescent Family Life Program and Cal-Learn, I was assigned to a case manager who showed genuine interest in my daughter as well as myself. I was given information about colleges, housing referrals, bus tokens, and monetary bonuses for receiving excellent grades on my report cards. El Nido taught me about the development of my daughter and how to be a good parent. I felt comfortable with El Nido's staff. I could always be myself and not worry about being judged.


Due to the support that I received from home, school, and El Nido, I was able to remain an honor student after I gave birth to my daughter. I was a member of the National Honor Society and worked.  When I graduated from high school, I was accepted into 8 colleges and received 7 scholarships. Since then, I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and my Master of Arts degree in Sociology.


I am currently employed doing something I love and I will receive my second Master's of Art degree in Social Work. My daughter is fourteen years of age.  She loves to draw, sew, cook, and play video games on the computer. She is also an honor student and already knows which college she wants to attend. She plans to major in business administration with an emphasis in fashion design. Her ultimate career goal is to establish her own clothing line by combining her artistic ability with her sewing ability.


We look forward to introducing more
members of our amazing Alumni Committee
in our upcoming newsletters!
In This Issue
A Message from our Executive Director
El Nido in the News
Meet El Nido's New Alumni Committee
Spotlight on a Champion
El Nido Save the Date
Let the Countdown Begin!

The 6th Annual Champions for Families Awards Dinner is just around the corner and the Event Co-Chairs and Committee are working hard to make
this year the best yet!

Honorees to include:



Liz Herrera

El Nido Family Centers' Executive Director

Saluting Her Thirty Years of Service to El Nido and The Community




KCET logo 

Independent Public Media for
Southern California



The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation 


Improving the Well-Being
of Los Angeles' Residents




Rita and Larry  

Carmen Family

Dedication and Commitment
to Helping Others


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Save the Date Verbiage

2012 Champions Committee

Co-Chairs: Meghan Barnes, Elaine Doran,  

Mindy Lamont, Scott Matula

Committee: Stuart Berton, Bill Canup,
Richard Doran, Michael
Hinrichs, Kara Keeley, Nan Lee, Penny Newmark, Jeff Thomas

Spotlight on a Champion
This issue highlights one of El Nido Family Centers' board members, staff or other community advocates.
Nan Lee Headshot - Director of Development

In this issue, meet Nan Lee, our new Development Director

1) Are you a native of southern California?

I almost consider myself a native now, but I have only been living here for the past eight years with my husband Scott and my two daughters, Cailene and Nora, who are seven and five years old. I grew up back east, spending my childhood in Pennsylvania.

I attended Drew University in New Jersey and worked there for a few years before moving to New York when I started working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

There, I met my husband, a native of California who was serving on my dinner committee. The timing was right for us to move out to Southern California and now I can't imagine living anywhere else.


2) What was your first job?

I was a counselor with the Easter Seals Society of New Jersey, then later I worked with the YWCA Rape Crisis Center. It was my experience in these two positions that lead me to believe that although I loved the hands on experience providing direct services, that my talents would be better used in the administrative end with non-profits. I knew I wanted to still be involved with organizations that serve to strengthen communities through their programs. This is how I found my way to fundraising.


3) Who is someone that inspires you?

 I have worked with non-profit organizations from New Jersey, New York and here in Los Angeles for the past 17 years, and throughout those years, I have met so many dedicated volunteers. I am in a fortunate position where it is my job to work with volunteers, who not only support financially, but also donate their time, and so many other resources with the sole purpose of helping the organization fulfill its mission and vision. I honestly am so inspired by such generosity and commitment. I look forward to working with all the volunteers associated with El Nido Family Centers.


4) The theme for this year's Champions for Families Awards Dinner is "El Nido Family Centers: Cultivating 87 Years of Hope, Trust and Growth" - which resonates most with you?

It is difficult to choose one but I think "Hope" resonates with me the most.  I believe that as long as people have hope, there is so much potential for possibilities. "Hope" is what encourages and motivates people to dream, and it is from these dreams that create positive change.


*Bonus* What are you most looking forward to as a member of the El Nido team?

I am so thrilled to be a member of the team at El Nido Family Centers!  I am very impressed with El Nido's 87-year history.  I was attracted from the very beginning with El Nido's mission and vision.

I look forward to working with El Nido's dedicated team, and welcome anyone interested in learning more about the organization and how to get involved, to reach out to me.


El Nido Family Centers
10200 Sepulveda Blvd., Ste 350
Mission Hills, California 91345
[email protected]
818.830.3646 ext. 261