Get Involved, Have A Say: EGP’s Community Calendar

January 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether it’s knitting tiny little red caps for newborns, getting children excited about science, or commenting on plans for a new development, there are lots of ways to get involved in your community.  Here are a few activities going on in the week ahead.

Today, Thursday, Jan. 18

2-6pm–Knitting Club for Seniors Meets at the East Los Angeles Library. Help make beanies in support of the Little Hats, Big Hearts, campaign. Small red caps are being knit for babies born in February in support of the American Heart Association, in connection with The Children’s Heart Foundation. All skill levels welcome. Knitting looms & yarn provided by Los Amigos of the East Los Angeles Library, located at 4837 E. 3rd St. LA 90022. Space is limited. Call (323) 264-0155 to rsvp or for more information.

Saturday, Jan. 20

8am-5pm–Happy New Pet Event at all 6 LA City Shelters. Find a new family member–one with fur on four paws. LA City Animal Shelters will open their doors with reduced adoption fees on all cats and dogs made possible by the Pet Care Foundation. Event repeats Sunday, Jan. 21, 11am-5pm. from Local shelter: North Central Shelter 3201 Lacy St., LA (Lincoln Heights) 90031. For more information & locations, visit

10am-1pm–Community Site Tours of Taylor Yard G2 Parcel ahead of Community Meeting/Preliminary Design Workshop on Jan. 24 (6-8pm). Access the tour site off San Fernando Road Road (access road marked “Metrolink Central Maintenance Facility”) between Chauser Street and Rio de los Angeles State Park entrance ; last tour leaves at 12:45 p.m. RSVP information at Public meeting Jan. 24 will be held at the Sotomayor Learning Academies gymnasium; 2050 N. San Fernando Rd. LA 90065. For more info, visit .

12 Noon-5pm–Archdiocese of Los Angeles presents the “OneLife LA” walk, which begins at El Pueblo (Olvera Street) and ends at California State Historic Park. LA Bishop Gomez will speak at the event, Includes entertainment and food along the route. El Pueblo is located at 125 Paseo de La Plaza, LA 90012.\

Wednesday, Jan. 24

4-5pm–Bell Gardens Library Makers Club: Get ready to discover, create & build. Children will explore STEAM concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) & work on a different project to take home. Recommended for Makers ages 8-12. Food may be served. Library is located at 7110 S. Garfield Ave. Bell Gardens, 90201. For more info, call (562) 927-1309.



Craft in America, El Pueblo Park Association, and El Pueblo Historical Monument present “Borders and Neighbors: Artist Panel Discussion” Jan. 25 from 2-3pm in the Biscailuz Gallery at El Pueblo Historical Monument: 125 Paseo de La Plaza, LA 90012.

Anthony Quinn Library in East LA on Jan. 27 Presents “What Is A Caregiver?”. The USC Family Caregiver Support Center/LACRC will discuss the roles and support that caregivers need. Learn how to network while learning about the different roles caregivers have. Library is located at 3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. LA 90063. For more info, call (323) 264-7715

Los Angeles Police Commission Public Meeting Jan. 30 at Ramona Hall Community Center in the Sycamore Grove area of Northeast L.A. Police commissioners will be joined by LAPD Chief Beck, Richard Tefank, Executive Director, and Django Sibley, Inspector General. Ramona Hall is located at 4580 N. Figueroa St., LA 90065. For more info, call (213) 236-1400.


From ‘Fresco’ Food Tasting to An Evening With Wonder Woman, There’s A Lot to Do

October 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The week ahead is filled with activities for the entire family that won’t break the back, can help you stay informed about your community, get healthy, do something good for the environment or just have fun!

Friday, Oct. 13

6-10pm–Wonder Woman Movie Night at Montebello Park Amphitheater. A family fun evening of women power, hosted by local women leaders and City of Montebello, with a free screening of Wonder Woman the movie at 7pm. Free popcorn, drinks & cotton candy. First come, first serve! First 100 kids will receive Wonder Woman capes. Food trucks on site for food purchases. Park is located 1401 W. Whittier Blvd, Montebello 90640. For more info, visit

Saturday, Oct. 14

9am-3pm—Free L.A. County Household Hazardous and E-Waste Roundup at the Huntington Park City Yard located at 6900 Bissell St. County residents can safely discard household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides; home-generated sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles; universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs; electronic waste (e-waste) such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones. For more information, contact the LA County Dept. of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA, or, or the LA County Sanitation Districts at 1 (800) 238-0172 or


: Saturday, Oct. 14-Noon-4pm–Free Harvest Fest /Fresco in Hermon (NELA) –Enjoy a Free community event featuring food tasting, raffles, free gifts, pumpkin painting, face painting, music & much more. Be sure to stop by Pueblo Chip’s booth to sample delicious products! Fresco is located at 5914 Monterey Rd. LA 90042. For more info, visit Fresco Facebook: Announcement sponsored by Pueblo Chips, the best tasting tortilla chips in town!

Saturday, Oct. 14 from Noon-4pm–Everyone invited to attend Harvest Fest at the Fresco Community Market in Hermon (NELA). Enjoy a Free community event featuring food tasting, raffles, free gifts, pumpkin painting, face painting, music & much more. Be sure to stop by PUEBLO CHIPS’s booth to sample our delicious products! Fresco is located at 5914 Monterey Rd. LA 90042. For more info, visit Fresco Facebook: This announcement sponsored by PUEBLO CHIPS, the best tasting tortilla chips in town!

9am–Peace March in Lincoln Heights. Join Lincoln Heights Clergy, Councilman Gil Cedillo, Mayors GRYD Office, LAPD and & community leaders for a peace march and resource fair. March starts at 9am at the Boys and Girls Club, 2635 Pasadena Ave, LA 90031. A Resource Fair, free food, and swimming will follow march at the B & G Club. For more info, call (323) 221-9111.

10am-4pm–The Commerce Comic Book Invasion Returns! This free and open to the public event is packed with exciting workshops, presentations, panel discussions and signings from over 30 comic book artists, writers and cosplayers. Location: Rosewood Librar, 5655 Jillson St. Commerce, 90040. For more info, call Commerce Library Teen Librarian Erik Jackiw at (323) 722-6660.

10am-2pm–Los Angeles Derby Dolls’ 9th Annual Health Fair at the El Sereno Senior Center. Free blood pressure &glucose screenings, flu shots, child safety seat inspections & more. Time: 10am-2pm. Senior Citizen Center located at 4818 Klamath Pl, L.A. 90032. For more information, call (323) 222-2040. To schedule a safety seat inspection, call (310) 318-5111.

10am-2pm–Kids Health Fair Hosted by LAC+USC Medical Center (LAC+USC) Dept. of Pediatrics. Over 30 exhibitors; info on nutrition, screenings, immunizations, injury prevention; car-seat safety & the Breathmobile asthma clinic. Location: Children’s Village, 2010 Zonal Ave (Building B), LA 90033. For more info, call 323-409-5318.

10:30am-12:30pm–16th Annual Cash for College & Career Convention at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Free, open to the public workshops on applying for college & financial aid (regardless of immigration status) & qualifying for free community college; help writing college admission essays & choosing a college major. Meet college reps & scholarship providers. LA Trade Tech is located at 400 W. Washington Blvd. LA 90015. Free parking at 23rd St & Grand Ave. For more info, visit,

11am–5pm–Montebello 97th Anniversary Parade & Park Festival at City Park. Parade kicks off at Whittier Blvd & 4th St and ends at City Park: Enjoy live bands, food, games, arts & crafts vendors, and much more. Free Admission. Be aware of local street closures. For more info, call (323) 887-4540, or visit

2:30-3:30pm–Remembering the Families of Chavez Ravine: Hispanic Genealogy Discussion at the East Los Angeles Library. Lawrence Bouett will speak about the early history of the Los Angeles/Chavez Ravine barrios of Palo Verde, Bishop, and La Loma. He has traced the genealogies of many families who lived there through U.S. Census and Voter registrations between 1910 and 1950. Event is sponsored by the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. LA 90022. For more info, call Daniel Hernandez at (323) 264-0155.

6:30pm–Free Movie Night at Sycamore Grove Park Bandshell in Highland Park. Take the family for an outdoor screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Hosted by Councilman Gil Cedillo, Arroyo Seco NC, LA Dept. of Rec & Parks. Free small popcorn while it lasts. Bring a lawn chair, pivnic and blanket. Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa, LA 90042.For more info, call Sylvia Robledo at (323) 550-1538.

Sunday, Oct. 15

12-8pm–Dia de los Muertos Skate Festival in Boyle Heights-Skateboarding, live music, art, free face painting. Location: 1st Street closure between Boyle and State.

2-3pm–East LA Library Presents Readers’ Theater: The Diaries of Adam and Eve, performed by local actors Cruz Flores & Lezlie Anne Moore. Mark Twain’s final & most personal work was adapted for stage by Cruz Flores. Open to Teens & Adults. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. LA 90022. For more info, call (323) 264-0155.

Wednesday, Oct. 18

4-5pm–Kids Game Night at the Cypress Park Library. Kids ages 5-11 can enjoy a variety of board games, building bricks and electronic games on the Wii Console. Bring your friends. Library located at 4025 E. City Terrace Dr., LA 90063. For more info, call (323) 261-0295.


Assemblyman Miguel Santiago Presents Free Women’s Self-Defense Workshops Oct. 20 (Koreatown) & Oct. 21 (Downtown L.A.) Learn how to protect yourself; discuss legislation on women’s issues. Locations: Koreatown-Olympic Community Police Station 1130 S. Vermont Ave. LA 90006); DTLA-Ketchum-Downtown YMCA 401 S. Hope St. LA 90071. For more info, call (213) 620-4646.

Free Visual Car Inspection Oct. 21 at the Highland Park Senior Center. Visual inspection includes lights, wipers, belts, hoses, vehicle battery & much more. Time: 9am-1pm. Senior Center located at 6152 N. Figueroa St. Highland Park, 90042. For more info, call (323) 255-7913.

Two Open Houses to Review Boyle Heights Community Plan Update-Tues. Oct. 24 & Sat. Oct. 28 at the Boyle Heights City Hall. The Open Houses are being held to showcase the draft plan update and proposed zoning. Locations: Oct. 24 (6-8pm) at Roosevelt High School Cafeteria, 456 S. Mathews St. LA 90033; Oct. 28 at Boyle Heights City Hall (10am-1pm) 1st Fl. Meeting Rm, 2130 E, 1st St., LA 90033. For more info, visit .

Oct. 25-Nov. 2-Free Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Novenario & Festival at Olvera Street in downtown LA. Nine consecutive nights of pageantry, featuring processions in traditional day of the dead dress, blessings, music, face painting, colorful public altars, dance & great food. Presented by the Olvera Street Merchants Assoc, & El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Day time & evening events. For more information & a schedule, visit



September 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Sept. 28

6-9pm–Community Meeting on 710 Freeway Project Draft EIR Sept. 28 in Huntington Park Hosted by East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. Discuss information & alternatives in report for expanding the 710 Fwy through East/Southeast LA. Provide official comment on the DEIR. Location: Huntington Park Community Center, 6925 Salt Lake Ave, Huntington Park 90255. For more info call (323)-263-2113 or email

Saturday, Sept. 30

1-2pm–Beyond the Music: A Musical Geography of Mexico at the Chicano Resource Center in the East Los Angeles Library. Learn from Grammy nominated musician Juan Dies as he gives a lecture on Mexico’s musical geography. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts enjoy Mexico’s diverse folk music and dance styles. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. Los Angeles 90022. For more info contact Daniel Hernandez at (323) 264-0155.

3-4pm–Learn about The Chicano Student Walkouts of 1968 at the East Los Angeles Library. Learn from writer, artist, civil rights lawyer and activist Herman Sillas as he shares his experiences of growing up Mexican-American. Light refreshments will be provided courtesy of Los Amigos. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. Los Angeles 90022. For more info call (323) 264-0155.

6pm–Viewing of The Lego Batman Movie in the Bandshell at Sycamore Grove Park. Bring your family and enjoy free popcorn. Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa St. Los Angeles 90065. For more info contact Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council at (323) 418-2762.


4th Annual Highland Park Independent Film Festival Oct. 5-8. Event features submissions by local filmmakers from Highland Park and Northeast Los Angeles. Location:  Highland Park Theater. For more information, visit

Community Calendar: March 23, 2017- March 29, 2017

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Saturday, March 25

March 25-7pm to1am–Artist Antonio Pelayo Solo Exhibition & Concert Benefit for Plaza de la Raza School of Performing & Visual Arts in Lincoln Heights.

Entertainment includes: La Sonora Dinamita; Casa de Calacas; DJ Sloe Poke; DJ Gargamel EV Dub; Special Performance by Alien Dance Band; Cat show by the Imperials; bike show by ted Akva. Must be 21 or older to attend. Tickets $20 in advance/$25 at the door. To buy tickets go to For more info, visit

9am-3pm–Free LA County Hazardous & E-Waste Roundup: Lynwood City Streets at Intersection of Butler Ave. & Bellinger (enter on Alameda; and at the El Monte Airport, 4233 N. Santa Anita Ave, El Monte. Safely discard household hazardous waste: antifreeze, old medications, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, needles, syringes, lancets, household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs; and e-waste such as TVs, monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones. For more information, call LA County Dept. of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to or call LA County Sanitation Districts at 1 (800) 238-0172 or

10am-12pm–Small Business Start-Up Workshop at East Los Angeles Library Sponsored by LA County Consumer & Business Affair. Get the basics on starting a business, County contracting & resources, licensing from LA County Treasurer, Tax Collector & Business Tax from the LA County Assessor. No Fee, but registration required. Library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. LA 90022. For more info or to rsvp, call (323) 881-3964 or visit

2-3:30pm–‘Viva Cesar Chavez!’ – Musical Theater at the East Los Angeles Library. Free program explores Chavez’ youth as a migrant worker in California & will feature dialogue, music and dance performance by the Tierra Blanca Arts Center in celebration of Cesar Chavez Week. Library located at 4837 E. 3rd St., LA 90022. For more info, call 323-264-0155.

Tuesday, March 28

2-3pm–CHP- Age Well Drive Smart Workshop at the Montebello Library. Tune up your driving skills & knowledge. Get tips on adjusting to age-related changes, driving alternatives & when to stop driving. All adults welcome. Library located at 1550 W. Beverly Blvd. For more info, call (323) 722-6551.

Wednesday, March 29

4-5pm–Intro to Animation Workshop at the Anthony Quinn Library in East LA. Cal State LA animation professor Sarah Beeby presents a fun starter workshop in experimental animation. Teen will be working on a promotional video for our upcoming Summer Discovery Program. This is the third part in the series.

Wednesday, March 29

4-5pm–Budgeting for Teens Workshop at Chet Holifield Library Montebello. Learn basics of handling money & credit cards at an early age. No charge. Library located at 1060 S. Greenwood Ave. Montebello, 90640. For more info, call (323) 728-0421.

4-5pm–City Terrace Library Family Storytime Honors Civil Rights leader, Cesar Chavez. Followed by “Make a Hand, Lend a Hand” art activity: you will get to decorate your handprint and send it to the Bezos Family Foundation, who have pledged to donate $1.90 per hand to help children in need in Nicaragua and Indonesia. Open to ages 5-11. Library located at 4025 E. City Terrace Dr.

LA 90063. For more info, call (323) 261-0295.


California High-Speed Rail Authority Hosts Community Open House Meetings on the Los Angeles to Anaheim Project March 30-April 8. Public is invited to learn about the proposed project udring a half-hour presentation. First meeting held March 30 at the SoCal Institute of Architecture. Time: 5:30-7:30pm. Location: 960 E. 3rd St. L.A. 90013. For info, call (877) 669-0494.

Anthony Quinn Library Family Storytime March 29 Honors Civil Rights leader, Cesar Chavez. Followed by “Make a Hand, Lend a Hand” art activity: you will get to decorate your handprint and send it to the Bezos Family Foundation, who have pledged to donate $1.90 per hand to help children in need in Nicaragua and Indonesia. Open to ages 5-11. Time: 4-5pm. Library located at 3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. LA 90063. For more info, call (323) 264-7715.

llusions by Allen Oshiro April 1 at the Bell Gardens Library. Oshiro will amaze audience with magic tricks & comedy. Live audience participation & incredible levitation! Open to children of all ages & families. Time: 2-3pm. Library located at 7110 S. Garfield Ave. Bell Gardens, 90201. Call (562) 927-1309 for more details.

Yuri’s Night Kids–Free Space Festival April 8 at Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey. Exciting activities for kids age 3 through high school. Learn about space; build a rocket; meet rocket scientists; talk to young rocket engineers & space techs about industry careers & more. Time: 10am-4pm. Space Center is located at 12400 Columbia Way in Downey. For full schedule and to register, go to .

‘Meatless Monday’ With Eastside Flavor

December 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The smell of tacos and chili filled the air at the East Los Angeles Library Monday where library patrons put down their books only to be surprised that some of their favorite dishes did not contain a popular ingredient.

“Who here has heard of Meatless Mondays,” asked Radical Cooks Chef Nina Zippay as she cooked a bowl of chili non-carne, a spin on the common chili stew.

Less than a handful of the 40 or so eastside residents at the cooking demonstration raised their hands.

Reducing the risk to chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity, is behind the growing trend to remove meat from one’s diet on Mondays, explained Zippay.

“It is generally healthier and more economical to eat more plant based food,” she said.

Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart diseases and stoke, according to a Harvard Study.

As she cut the peppers, diced the onions and added butternut squash to the small pot Zippay explained that substituting meat with tofu would ensure the dishes contain similar grams of protein and help preserve some of the traditional taste.

“When people hear it doesn’t have meat they are afraid the vegetables will not be enough flavor,” Zippay said.

She added that meat requires chewing, “that’s why we need to create texture.”

 East Los Angeles Library patrons enjouy a meatless chili bowl during a cooking demonstration Monday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

East Los Angeles Library patrons enjouy a meatless chili bowl during a cooking demonstration Monday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Zippay added vegetable stock and a can of black beans to her meatless creation before inviting her audience to take a taste test.

“It’s pretty good,” said 22-year-old Anthony Hernandez. “Can I take some home,” he joked.

Hernandez told EGP he attended the demonstration because his girlfriend’s mother is prone to diabetes and wanted to learn about meals that were tasty and healthy.

“We plan on taking the challenge of Meatless Mondays,” said Maria Martinez.

Zippay said Meatless Mondays could even be combined with Taco Tuesdays.

“Meatless Mondays can be as simple as bean tacos,” she explained as her pan sizzled with beans – a protein – and sweet potatoes.

She mixed-in diced onions, minced garlic, cumin and paprika before placing some of the mixture on a corn tortilla and topping it with red cabbage and cilantro, and just like that, the colorful dish was ready for its taste test.

Once again, thumbs up all around.

“The label of meatless may turnoff some, but today we all had a vegan meal and many may not have realized it,” Zippay told EGP.

Chef Nina Zippay shares some meatless recipes during a cooking demonstration at the East Los Angeles Library Monday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Chef Nina Zippay shares some meatless recipes during a cooking demonstration at the East Los Angeles Library Monday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Arturo Fernandez says he was surprised with how savory vegetables can be without any meat.

He said his father had diabetes before he passed. At 54, Fernandez has yet to have a physical because he fears he too may be diabetic.

“I’m going to start changing the way I eat and hope that going meatless will help,” he said.

The recipes were easy to replicate, expressed some participants.

“At home we eat a lot of hamburgers, hot dogs, carne asada,” said Andrea Silva. “But these are easy [to cook].”

Alicia Ayala and her 11-year-old daughter Elizabeth attended the meeting to learn what it takes to cook a meatless dish. She was surprised to find out it was easier than she thought.

“I already cook most of this food,” she said in Spanish before sharing her favorite dishes with beans and tomatoes. “All I have to do now is remove the meat.”

Ayala said she feared it would not taste good, but says she is now confident her children may enjoy it.

“We already don’t eat a lot of meat, but I learned eating more vegetables is good for your health,” said Elizabeth.

The hard part is getting the family to go along with cutting meat, especially during the holidays, remarked Blanca Chavez.

“Changes in our diet make a huge difference in the health of our family,” encouraged Zippay.  “We can start with Mondays.”


Aspiring Writers Hone Skills With ‘Conchas y Cafe’

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Pens in hand and notepads at the ready, the budding group of writers at the East Los Angeles Library listened intently as their instructor gave them tips on how to breathe life into their stories not yet written.

The ten adults are taking part in “Conchas y Cafe,” a 10-week adult writer’s workshop where they jot down their thoughts, experiences and observations, then work on ways to improve what they’ve written.

For some, the Tuesday night class comes after a long day at work, school or in the kitchen. Others are retired or homebound caretakers who find the class a welcome night.

Lea este artículo en Español: Aspirantes a Escritores Refuerzan Sus Habilidades con ‘Conchas y Café’

Luis Antonio Pichardo, one of the course instructors, says many of the participants stepped away from writing for a time but are pursuing it again now that they are older.

He said the workshop’s name, “Conchas y Cafe” – Spanish for coffee and the name of a Mexican pastry – is meant to reflect the casual, but intimate setting they give the writers.

“The goal is to promote literacy in the community,” he said, adding that most “people end up writing about their community, personal experiences and family.”

Sixty-eight-year-old Susy Chavez lives in Montebello. She’s retired and enjoys spending her days with her children and grandchildren, but on Tuesday nights, it’s all about being a writer.

“It’s been my heart’s desire to complete a children’s book,” she told EGP. She said it’s a dream she put off for years but has revived with help from the writing group.

“I was working in isolation, without getting any feedback,” she explained. “I realized I needed character development and the words to really hold an audience.”

For the last six weeks Chavez and her fellow aspiring writers have been working on a variety of writing prompts and assignments aimed at building their creative writing skills. There are four weeks to go in the workshop, which will culminate with the group producing a 20-page collaborative book.

“I just wanted to write and I’ll write wherever they will let me!” says office worker Sarah Alvarado. “I don’t get to be creative at work but this workshop has created a second life for me,” she said about her workshop experience. She said it’s changed her outlook about her part-time hobby, and no longer calls herself a “wannabe-writer.”

“People get sheepish about calling themselves writers,” she explained. “We think there’s an ego in that, but this group has helped me grow out of it,”

Alvarado is not yet comfortable telling people about the blog where she writes about things like her visit to the Natural History Museum or the time she went ghost hunting, or the “hair guru” who changed her view on life.

“I don’t care if anybody reads my stuff,” she said. “I’ve learned I just need to write.”

“Eastside Johnny” told EGP he joined the group after his wife passed away. He said his wife had encouraged him to get on with projects he had put off for years. After she died, “I realized if I don’t do it now it might not happen.”

But by mid-December, Eastside Johnny and the group’s other members will all be published authors. Each will have at least one story in “Conchas y Cafe,” the first in a series of books produced by writers in the workshop with the same name. Stories will be typed on a vintage Smith Corona typewriter and the book sold at the library’s bookstore.

Co-instructor Jennifer Fuentes, pictured right, goes over an assignment with a writer at the East Los Angeles Library. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Co-instructor Jennifer Fuentes, pictured right, goes over an assignment with a writer at the East Los Angeles Library. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Yet, exciting as it may be to be a published author, it’s not why Maria Ticas, 53, signed up for the workshop. She told EGP writing is a tool to help her better communicate with her autistic son.

“He doesn’t talk too much but he likes reading my stories,” she said proudly. “I use what I write to teach him,” she said.

Ticas says she leaves her stories on her young son’s pillow to read. Sometimes the stories are about her life growing up in El Salvador where she was a teacher for 10 years, or they could be about something she’s having trouble explaining to her son.

She told EGP that she couldn’t stop her son from continuously hitting his head, so she wrote about a monster who lost his head after doing the same thing. “My son read the story and said he would stop because he didn’t want to end up like him,” Ticas said in Spanish. She says she appreciates having a course close to home where she can learn about story telling and the proper way to write.

East L.A. resident Fabiola Manriquez, 51, works part-time and says she wanted something affordable. A free, 10-week course was definitely within her budget.

“I wanted to become a better writer, but if I had to pay for this workshop I probably wouldn’t be able to afford it,” she said.

By day, she oversees the kitchen at a day car facility, but on Tuesday nights she cranks out story after story about her past. She described herself as very private when she first started the workshop, but says she is now open to writing about her life.

“I’ve come to terms with a lot of things, because when you write you do a lot of self reflection.”

Each week the group is given writing prompts, or topics to write about. One of the exercises involved writing something about freedom, justice, liberty, education or morality to share with the class. Manriquez decided to use a technique she’d picked up in the class: saying more with fewer words.

“Without education one cannot defend freedom, justice or morality,” she read aloud during last week’s class.

The fear of not being good enough is what keeps most people from writing, Manriquez told EGP. It’s a fear she knows first hand, but says she’s overcoming with help from Conchas y Cafe.

The next workshop cycle begins Dec. 15. For more information, call  the library for details at (323) 264-0155.

Twitter @nancyreporting

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