Alberto “Beto” Urias is a college graduate, an entrepreneur, the father of two little boys. His future is bright — but it wasn’t always.
Beto grew up in Southern Los Angeles. Living in a studio apartment with his entire family made it hard for him to learn and play. But one of his neighbors told his mom about an after-school program at the Hope Street Margolis Family Center. Soon, he started going every day after school.
In 1992, California Hospital Medical Center and UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities received a Head Start Bureau grant for Hope Street. Soon after, the center opened its doors to families across Los Angeles. Hope Street was so much more than just an after-school program. They had something for everyone — arts and crafts, recreational activities like yoga, tutoring for children, and parenting classes and smart shopping seminars for adults.
“It’s a great resource for the community. We’ve been blessed to have such great leadership from our hospitals,” said Sid Oxford, the Youth Center Coordinator of Hope Street Margolis Family Center. And part of being a good resource for the community meant listening to people within it.
The community’s input was a huge part of the planning at Hope Street. Parents and children helped decide what types of programs would be offered at the center. And when Hope Street made plans to build a new center four years later, the community had a say.
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Sid has been at Hope Street long enough to see Beto grow into a young man. Sid, who Beto refers to as “The Big Homie Sid,” went to Beto’s basketball games, fundraisers, high school and college graduations. Beto says that Sid served as a second father to him, even when he had to leave Hope Street.
“I got into the wrong stuff,” Beto says. Beto started hanging out with a rebellious group in high school and after his family moved into a new apartment he acted out by vandalizing the building. When management threatened to evict his family, Hope Street was able to help convince them to let his family stay.
Not too long after, Beto returned to Hope Street. They helped him apply for college and eventually his own children joined the head start program. “They’ve always been there for me,” Beto says.
Left: Beto with his grandmother, mother, father, brother, sister, niece, wife and two boys. Right: Beto with Sid. Beto was the first in his family to graduate from college.
Beto now runs his own company, called Virtuoso Beards, selling environmentally responsible beard butters and balms to local barbershops. He says that one day he wants to start a scholarship fund for the kids at Hope Street. “It’s important for me to give back to them.”
But for now, Beto’s just happy to be able to drop off his own boys at Hope Street’s Early Head Start program. “My 7-year-old is a genius and I owe it all to them,” Beto said. “I wish all of L.A. knew about Hope Street and could send their kids there.”