11th Mar 2019

Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty

In 1993, Cenia Bonilla was a mother of three in need of quality, affordable child care. An immigrant from El Salvador, Cenia struggled with learning English. Unfortunately, a lack of access to child care meant she was unable to enroll in English language classes. This disadvantage didn’t just impact her language skills, but made the search for reliable employment all the more difficult.

Pathways LA had recently opened a new preschool in West Hollywood. News of the child care center reached Cenia and she learned that low-income parents could qualify for financial assistance if they meet the requirements: employment, college or university classes, or enrollment in an English as a Second Language course (ESL). For Cenia this was “life changing.”

With two of her children already in elementary school, Cenia was able to place her youngest daughter, Nicole, at West Hollywood Preschool while she took ESL courses. Upon successful completion of the language classes, she went on to work as a nutritional aid at West Hollywood Preschool. “They opened a lot of doors for me,” Cenia says, referring not only to the child care and employment opportunity, but also monthly parenting workshops on a variety of topics such as successful discipline strategies and helping children’s brain development.

Cenia had a desire to grow in the early childhood education field and, once Nicole was in elementary school, decided to further her own education. She wanted to set an example for her daughters by studying and working hard to achieve her goal of becoming a preschool teacher. Cenia succeeded both in her own career, as well as serving as a positive role model; Nicole is now a nurse at Los Angeles’ Kaiser Permanente and is currently studying to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Cenia recently reconnected with Pathways LA, this time as a donor. Her message was simple, “It’s never too late. Everything I learned from Pathways LA got me to where I am now.” Thankful for the help she was offered, she wanted to pay it forward for parents who are in the same situation today that she was in nearly 28 years ago. “I want today’s parents to have the same support I was shown.”

Just like Cenia and Nicole, Pathways LA continues to help thousands of Los Angeles families gain access to early care and education. Care that also provides an opportunity for parents to earn a living, gain an education, and ultimately, along with their children, break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

You can join Cenia by making a gift to support the families Pathways LA serves and, together, help break the cycle of poverty.