In jail, every day is a gift
1st place $50
By M.D., Juvenile Hall
Being in juvenile hall, I can’t say I have a favorite day. What makes a day special to me is that I wake up and know that my family is OK. So I don’t really have a favorite day, but any day could be one. For instance, I could say a court day is my favorite day because I find out what’s going on with my case. But I guess right now every day is my favorite day because I’m still alive.
When I’m at home, it’s a totally different story. Every day is always special to me but Saturday is my favorite day because I go to church (I’m Seventh-day Adventist) and that is important to me. Another reason I like Saturdays is because I have plenty of free time. Being the writer that I am (I write poetry and music) this extra time comes in handy.
Besides church and free time, what really makes my Saturdays great is spending time with family and friends. This by far is the greatest thing to do on any day, but with my busy schedule and me living in group homes and places like that, it makes it hard to spend time with my folks. It’s always good to spend time with the people you care about because it not only makes you feel good, but it makes them feel good as well.
The only downside to Saturdays is not being in school. Since I want to become a professional writer, child psychologist, criminal lawyer and computer technician, I really need all the schooling I can manage. School is what makes picking a favorite day hard for me because I love school too much to need a favorite day.
Being in juvenile hall has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Mostly it has taught me to be thankful for every day, week, month and year because you never know when you will lose it. That is the main reason I don’t like to single days out, but instead see them as gifts that can be given or taken away.
For the rest of my life I believe that Saturday will always be my favorite day. But just like I don’t judge a person before I get to know him or her, I don’t like to judge a day before I see how it ends.
Looking forward to game days
2nd place $30
By Brian Huizar, Birmingham HS (Van Nuys)
Brian Huizar (left) and his brother Evander after a baseball game.
Photo by Candelario Huizar (Brian's dad)
“Here we go Dodgers, here we go!” This is the chant from the fans in the stands on Saturday afternoons, but the sound is not coming from crazy fans at Dodger Stadium. It is coming from mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, cheering for their young Little League players. I am one of those cheering fans. And there is no better day for me than Saturday when I get to cheer for my little Dodger.
Ever since my brother Evander joined a Little League team, Saturday has become my favorite day of the week. That’s because Saturday is the day he has games. I just love going to his games and going crazy every time he gets a hit or makes a great play. One of the best parts of my Saturdays is when people ask who number 14 is. I love being able to say, “That’s my brother.”
A typical Saturday for me starts by waking my little brother up. While I’m making him breakfast, we always joke around. He is always talking about how he is better than me, but it’s cool. He knows who taught him everything he knows.
After breakfast, we’re off to the baseball field. I help him warm up his arm by playing catch. Then we go to the bench and relax for a while.
I help coach the team sometimes, so I am always in the dugout talking with him about the game and answering his questions. But to be honest, the only reason I stay in the dugout is so I can be the first to congratulate him after a great play.
Before we had our baseball-filled Saturdays, my brother and I would fight a lot. We had nothing in common. But now we share a common love of sports. We never have time to fight anymore because we are always practicing. This is all because of Saturdays.
I love Saturdays because they have brought me closer to my little brother. There is no better feeling in the world than the feeling I get on those Saturday afternoons when I see my little Dodger run out on that diamond.
I miss Saturdays in Mexico
3rd place $20
By Mayra Islas, Animo Justice Charter HS
Saturdays have always been special to me. When I lived in Mexico, Saturday was the most hoped for day of the week. I remember that my cousin and I were always wishing for the school week to end and for Saturday to begin. Every Saturday morning would start the same way: my cousin would come to my house to wake me up. Around 10 a.m. we would go out of town to my family’s ranch. Once at the ranch, we enjoyed a variety of activities. The sun shone down on us, as we lived out our wonderful Saturdays away from the city.
We would play soccer, run with the dogs and sometimes hunt birds and lizards with my uncle. There were occasions when we got to help my uncle sow (plant seeds) corn or chiles. Those days were hard, but we still enjoyed them. When we came back from work, we would be rewarded with warm bowls of my grandma’s pasta and beans, accompanied by handmade tortillas and mugs of chocolate caliente (hot chocolate). After we ate our delicious feast, we would retreat to the lone pine tree behind the house to climb the branches and rest, at last.
Usually in the afternoon my uncle would take us to the lake; the water was icy cold but it did not matter since there was nothing comparable to the fun that we had at the lake. There was a garden just a few miles away from the house, and often on Saturdays we would go there. Following our swim in the lake, we would eat luscious fruit from the trees. For two hours or more, we would savor sweet peaches, mangos, juicy oranges and sweet guavas. Then, we would return to the house at sunset. On our way back, my uncle would let us ride the mule, since the journey was long. At last, my family would gather around a bonfire to tell scary stories under the starry, dark sky. All of these meals and excursions were such heavenly fun—it is easy to see why Saturdays in Mexico were the most exciting days of my life.
My Saturday experiences have changed since arriving in the United States. Here, there is no longer my cousin to spend the day with me; however, I have my family and a boyfriend, who always tries to make Saturdays a different experience than the rest of the week. Now on Saturday I usually wake up around 9 a.m. and take a peacefully lengthy shower. Then, I sit with my family at the table to eat a delightful breakfast that my mom prepares for us. Sometimes I go with my family to play basketball at the park, where we indulge in meals of carne asada.
Once in a while we go to the beach or visit my aunt in Ontario. When we go to Ontario, my mom and I go shopping with my female cousins and my aunt. Then at noon my uncle and father cook for us and we have picnic at the park near my aunt’s house. We spend the whole day with them and return home late at night.
Also, there are some Saturdays that I spend with my boyfriend. He is not only my boyfriend, he is my best friend, my companion and my comfort. The Saturdays spent with my boyfriend are even more meaningful than those spent in Ontario with my aunt and her family. My boyfriend and I go to the theater to enjoy a movie or just stay home sharing the happiness and misfortunes of the week with each other. No matter what we do, our time together makes my Saturday a special day.
I prefer Saturdays over other days of the week because I find harmony within myself. My life is always filled with so many things to do; on every other day I never seem to have a minute of peace. Monday through Friday I dedicate every waking moment to school, work and community issues. On Sundays I volunteer at a museum. Therefore, Saturday is my favorite day of the week because it is wonderfully different from my routine. Additionally, on that day I have the opportunity to spend time with my family and to demonstrate my love and appreciation toward them.
There could never be another day of the week like Saturday. Saturdays are exceptional for me; they represent unforgettable memories from my past that I continue to preserve in my heart and mind. I will never forget those amazing weekends with my cousin in Mexico. They are memorable moments that make my Saturdays in the United States (almost) as enjoyable.
I can relax on Wednesdays
By Kimberly Shephard, Crossroads School (Santa Monica)
School days are never days that I look forward to. They always seem like some burden that I am forced to deal with Monday through Friday. It would seem then that I would choose either Saturday or Sunday for my favorite day of the week since there is no school on those days. However, while the weekends are nice to have, they aren’t always so perfect. They can be consumed with extra homework or simply boring if I find myself with a lack of plans. For these reasons and more, my favorite day of the week has come to be Wednesday.
Wednesday is a nice day because it is placed so perfectly in the middle of the week. Unlike Monday, I am not looking ahead at the long week of school I have yet to finish. It always feels to me that the week becomes a bit more manageable once Wednesday comes around. I suppose this may be because I have a double free period at the end of the day. With the way my schedule works out, there are many Wednesdays when my last class ends at 11:20 a.m. At this point, I am free to leave campus. When that last bell rings, I feel such a rush of relief. I suddenly find myself able to do what I choose, without being forced to sit through another hour-long lecture. I could even choose to stay at school to get some extra work done. Being in the school library while everyone else is in class allows me to get some serious work done. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to focus without the distraction of television or music in the background. As nice as it feels to not do work, I’ve realized that getting work done can be just as satisfying. This way it’s not left to the very last moment, which piles up stress. My extra time on Wednesdays has definitely allowed me to finish the work I would otherwise leave until the last possible second.
However, there are many Wednesdays when I leave school promptly at 11:20 a.m. when my last class ends. Since I drive to school every day, I am able to get in my car and go wherever I feel. One of the best parts of Wednesday is being able to skip lunch at school. I’ve gotten so sick of the food that they serve and it’s really not that great. Being able to leave early allows me to get whatever I want for lunch. It’s an amazing feeling to pick up good food and take it home, especially if I’m craving something specific. If I just feel like going straight home, I can make myself anything I have in my kitchen. Since I’m not allowed to go off campus to get food, it’s nice to have the choice of what to eat every Wednesday.
Waking up at 6:45 every morning can be extremely exhausting, especially since I never get to sleep early. However, it is necessary if I want to get a good parking spot. Wednesday is always so great when I’m out of energy. I’m able to leave school after only three hours of classes and go straight home. Then I can change back into my pajamas, turn on the television and crawl back into bed. Being able to relax on a Wednesday afternoon is an amazing feeling. No matter how much work I may have been assigned on a given Wednesday, I will always have this down time to get me through the day.
Wednesday adds a bit of tranquility to my week of obnoxious school hours. It is my favorite day because I can relax and enjoy a mid-day nap while still having an overall productive day. It’s Tuesday right now … I can’t wait for tomorrow.
We received more than 200 essays from our readers about their favorite day of the week. Some days were more popular than others. Here are the days, with the number of votes each day got.
ESSAY CONTEST—The street that means the most to me
There are a lot of famous streets in L.A. They are immortalized in movies, overrun by tourists and have historical meaning—Melrose, Sunset, Olvera and Rodeo Drive. Those may be famous and mean a lot to other people, but we want to know what street means a lot to you. It could be the street where you learned how to ride a bike or the street you stand on every day waiting for the bus. Maybe your favorite taco stand or flea market is there. Or, you could just like the name of the street. Tell us a story about what makes that street special to you. Give us details describing what it looks like and what you do there. Make us feel like we are there with you so that we can see why it’s your favorite street.Write an essay to L.A. Youth and tell us about it.
Essays should be a page or more. Include your name, school, age and telephone number with your essay. The staff of L.A. Youth will read the entries and pick three winners. Your name will be withheld if you request it. The first-place winner will receive $50. The second-place winner will get $30 and the third-place winner will receive $20. Winning essays will be printed in our March-April issue and put on our Web site at layouth.com.
MAIL YOUR ESSAYS TO:
5967 W. 3rd St. Ste. 301
Los Angeles CA 90036
DEADLINE: Friday, June 20, 2008
Last month we asked Club Goodwill REwards members to tell us (in 500 words or less) about their amazing dads. Following are the four heartfelt winning essays! Each of the four winners received a fashionable necktie for dad (because every dad needs a tie), as well as a six pack of tickets for the Milwaukee Brewers vs. Washington Nationals game on Saturday, June 25 at Miller Park.
Thank you to all who entered and HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
I didn’t meet my dad until I was 20 years old. By that time, he’d already raised 2 kids (ages 20 and 16) from a previous marriage. But the way he looked at my mom, watched her walk across a room like she was the only woman on a dark stage with a spotlight shining around her, made me believe in love. The first hug he ever gave me immediately began to heal wounds that had been raw and gaping for years. From there, his huge heart, wide smile, and endless love began to mend the scars that were ever present on my heart. The day he married my mom, I officially had the dad I’d always longed for. There has never been one day since he arrived on the scene that I haven’t felt like his biological daughter and I feel confident that he loves me like I am. Some fathers have notable business accomplishments or are world renown for their innovations. My dad doesn’t have those attributes to add to his resume; however, my dad is amazing because he changed my life. He has shown me what it means to be loved by a father. He’s taught me what to expect from a husband. He has blessed me with the understanding of how to love your grandchildren. Above all, my dad has shown me that love isn’t determined by DNA, age, race, religion, or financial status. My dad proves every day that every child, young or old, already a parent or just a newborn, sick or healthy needs a father to love them. My dad is beyond amazing and has changed my heart for the last 13 years in ways I never knew possible.
Thanks Dad – I love you!
Sofia, Isabella and Giovanni
Hi! We are three year old triplets and we want to tell you all about our amazing dad!
Since our dad first found out we were going to be triplets he was so excited and decided that he wanted to be a stay at home dad – full time! He went with mom to all of her doctor appointments and helped mom get everything ready for our arrival– and, he helped to keep mom calm - Dad’s good at that!
And, since the day we were born he has spent every day with us! He takes us on adventures all of the time- some of our favorite spots to explore are the Milwaukee County Zoo, swimming at the YMCA and story time at the library. He is great at packing a picnic and playing with us at the park in the summer! We love to play outside! Dad says it’s going to be summer again soon – we can’t wait!
Our dad also cooks us the most amazing meals! Having dinner as a family is very important to him- so he always makes sure it delicious- and it’s always a special time of day for our family.
We love our dad so much and we are so grateful that we get to spend so much time with him!
Our dad deserves this break to go to the Brewer game- he loves sports and it would be a great treat for him! Thank you for considering him!
Sofia, Isabella and Giovanni
(Mom, Sarah, helped us write this!)
To sum up my father in 500 words I would need more then that, but since I can't let me explain that he was very young when he had my sister who's 3 years older then me. He was 17 and my mother was 18. He did everything in his power to give us everything we needed. He had 4 beautiful girls and on top of trying to feed us, him and my mother, he brought in foster kids. My dad is a person who loves knowledge and loves to have a good time. He has taught me everything I know and I wouldn't be me without him. We used to go out on lunch dates when I was a kid to just reconnect because he was always working or we would go on bike rides. Unfortunately 13+ years now he was driving my sister to school and his car flipped. It was on the last bad snowfall and he got crushed In the car and due to that became a quadriplegic. He went through so much those first 3 years of hate and depression. My dad was never a man to sit still more then to go to bed for the night. He is one of the strongest, most bravest men I know. He deserves so much more then what life sometimes throws at him especially since we lost my mother 3 years ago come July. And now my dad not only is a quadriplegic trying to stay healthy, he has to act like a dad still and a mom at times and that is why this man deserves all the gifts me and my sisters can possibly give him if not more. He is also an awesome grandpa to 13 grand babies. I would love it if he could just once get a cool sweet gift/surprise for Father's Day. He is a wonderful man who deserves so much more than what life has given him the last few years of his life.
Thank you dad for making me who I am today. I love you!
I am submitting this on behalf of Emma L. Emma is a 14 year old girl with Down's Syndrome and in her words her father, Kevin Larson, is “the best dad ever”. This is because he makes her cheesy rollups, gets her milk and water, and walks by her when she rides her recumbent bike. When she is sick he gives her medicine and a warm bubble bath to help soothe her. When she is happy he goofs around with her and sings to her Taylor Swift CD. But most importantly of all, when she is sad he is there to tell her it will all be alright.
On a silly note, she now calls her father ‘Babe’ because it is his new fiancé’s nickname for him. They are getting married in July and now we are The Three Musketeers. Unfortunately, we can only spend time together on the weekends because of a crazy custody battle. However, our time is spent going to church, the movies, and playing in her play room. She couldn’t have asked for a more loving, caring, and giving father.
(Submitted by Ashley)