(Photo credit: The Los Angeles Dream Center)
LOS ANGELES — The Restart Learning Center, now in its tenth week of operation, is a new service the Los Angeles Dream Center began providing at their Echo Park campus at the start of an unusual school year. With remote learning providing an additional challenge for working families, and unstable or non-existent wifi connections for some, hundreds of families have leaned on the Dream Center during this chaotic moment for public education.
School-aged children from across Los Angeles have made their way to the Dream Center to a safe, socially distanced outdoor learning environment established in the Dream Center parking lot. Each student is provided with a lap top and high speed internet on which they can complete their lessons and homework. There are also up to 15 tutors available every day to help guide students as well. These services are provided free of charge to the community.
Stories from parents have poured in over recent weeks, thanking the Dream Center staff for helping lift a heavy burden placed on families this year.
Maria, a single mother, recently told the tutors and staff at the Restart Learning Center, “The kids need internet to get their schoolwork done, but as a single mother I just can’t afford to pay for it every month. I tried using the hotspot provided by the school district, but it did not work at all. Thankfully, here at the Dream Center the staff and volunteer teams provide everything the kids need to succeed.”
“Not only is the service helpful for the kids, but it helped me as a mom,” Maria said. “It’s been fantastic, and I’m very grateful. We’ve also been receiving food and basic necessities from the drive-thru that the Dream Center started back in March when the pandemic closures first began, and we’re very grateful for that as well.”
As Maria mentioned, The Dream Center also began a drive-thru for meals and essentials back in mid-March to help families during the lockdown, especially those that depended on school lunches. To date they have served over 800,000 meals to families in Los Angeles.
“Here at the Dream Center there is a sense of normalcy,” Maria added. “My kids can see other children and make friends. They can participate in sports on the blacktop! My eleven year old boy is playing soccer here. My eleven year old daughter is running around, playing basketball, and getting fresh air. I’m so happy; my kids are happy, what more could I ask for! The emotional problems they were experiencing have gone away, and in just three weeks!”
Daisy, another mother in Los Angeles, expressed her frustrations with multiple children at home without dependable wifi, and how the Restart Learning Center has helped her solve this problem. “Just the fact that they’re actually doing their work here is a lot of help,” Daisy said. “What can I really do if my wifi is crashing? I have seven kids at home, what can I do? There’s nothing that I can do.”
“My oldest daughter comes home and she tells me, ‘Mom, everybody is so helpful! I’ve been doing all my homework,’” Daisy added. “She wasn’t able to do that at home because there were so many distractions. It’s been helping each and every one of them with their grades. I’m so, so grateful for this service.”
“I was hesitant to bring my kids at first, but when I saw on Instagram what was going on here at the Dream Center I realized, no, it is a safe place for them to be,” Daisy emphasized. “It’s basically like taking them to school. It’s almost the same thing. So I told my sister-in-law how the kids get all their work done, and how there’s always someone walking around to help them. When my kids come home for the day, they’ve already done everything. Not only is their work done, they’ve been fed breakfast and lunch as well. It’s just one less thing I have to worry about.”
To learn more about the Restart Learning Center and other ways the Los Angeles Dream Center is helping fill the gap during the pandemic, visit https://www.dreamcenter.org/relief/.