The opportunity to work with trained athletes at a place like Gymnastic Beat would be out of reach for most of these youngsters.
“Our families derive from such economically disadvantaged backgrounds that normally these families would not have the funds to do that most of these kids would be at home,” says Arcelia Peres-Chica with Holy Cross Center for Women.
These children participate in the Saint Agnes Holy Cross Center for Women summer program, a program that works to offer these kids experiences they might not otherwise get.
“We are trying to expose those children to geography and the arts and hopefully inspire some of those children that they can be artists (and) musicians,” Peres-Chica says.
The center located near Fresno’s Poverello House serves as a respite and learning center for poor and homeless women and their children.
“We serve people from all areas from Fresno, but a lot of our families are predominately farmworker families, families that work in the packing sheds. They are here to receive a lot of basic needs and their children come along with them when they are not in school,” Peres-Chica explains.
There are programs for young people of all ages from teens to preschoolers, and their parents often come along too.
“Some of them live in areas where they don’t even want their children to go outside because of the gangs and it gives them a place to socialize,” says Sister Mary Clennon with Holy Cross Center for Women.
These two women, Clennon and Peres-Chica, know what these programs mean for the community of women and children they serve, between the both of them they have worked at Holy Cross for more than 40 years.
“When you are able to help people, to me that is the most satisfying thing you can do,” Clennon says.
“It means everything. I feel that we on a daily basis are impacting the women who come here or the children,” Clennon explains.
Adding, “And hopefully we are inspiring them to do better.”