Going From Survive to Thrive

DOWNLOAD ARTICLE

April 2016

By Laurence Kaldor, President of the VCLF

RUBY ANTOSH COMES FROM a troubled past, to be sure, but her future is brighter than ever, thanks to the Boys and Girls Club of the West Valley, and support from local attorneys through the Valley Community Legal Foundation (VCLF) of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association.

Ruby, 19, has probably had to overcome more challenges throughout her 19 years than most of us have had to in twice as many years. She was born into a family facing challenges, with her father dying before her birth. Her mother tried, but she could not support Ruby and brother, which led to a string of foster home placements. And, as the case is all too often, the best weren’t great, and the worst were dreadful.

Ruby remembers that time well, a time when eating enough was a rarity. “Most often, a ‘meal’ was a jar of peanut butter or jelly,” recalls Ruby. “If food was not important, school was even less important.”

Just getting by, getting a meal, having a safe place to stay with her brother was the focus of her life. As a child she was bullied at school. Ruby was lonely, and sadly she was repeatedly exposed to drug and alcohol abuse from family members and in foster homes. Scholastics were not high on the priority list.

After a long time in the foster system, the court allowed Ruby and her brother to return to living with their mother who had been in trouble with the legal system. And Ruby began to work for a better life. She wanted to do well in school, and she worked hard.

While Ruby excelled in school and outside activities, her home life continued to be a negative environment. During that time, Ruby found support in the Boys and Girls Club of the West Valley. With after school programs, counselors, mentors, and results-driven programs, they gave Ruby the boost she needed.

“I have a support system at last. I have teachers and friends who believe in me, and I have the Boys & Girls Club,” tells Ruby. “For starters, they tutor me whenever I struggle in a class. The tutors always work through problems with me, help me study, and even stay after hours until I am done.”

Ruby turned her life around, earning both the President’s Gold Award and the Principal’s Award at her middle school. Her academic achievements continued at Canoga Park High School, where she is ranked thirteenth in her class and on the school’s Honor Roll. She was also recently named the Boys and Girls Club of the West Valley 2016 Youth of the Year.

In addition to her academic success, Ruby is very active in school activities. She is the captain of the varsity basketball team, co-president of a women’s empowerment club, leader of track crew and chain crew, and treasurer of the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Of her Club experience, Ruby says, “When I step through the Club doors after school, I feel at home. I know all the staff members and they always help me when I need it. They are family.”

A big source of encouragement for Ruby has been College Bound, a program of the Boys and Girls Club. The goal of College Bound is to ensure members receive the support needed to graduate high school on time, as well as helping them create a plan for the future. Whether the plan is to attend a two year, four year, public or private university or to graduate job ready, College Bound offers various resources to help boys and girls achieve their goals

“College Bound has been huge for my future. They have assisted me with everything—personal statements, applications, a resume, and scholarships. They have even taken me on college tours that have really opened my eyes.”

“They have given me options I never thought would be possible. Now, against all odds, I will be the first one in my family to go to college.”

HOW VALLEY ATTORNEYS CAN HELP LOCAL YOUTH

Ruby is just one of more than 3,000 local kids helped by the Boys and Girls Club of the West Valley, funded in part by Valley attorneys through their support of the VCLF. Every year the VCLF supports the Boys and Girls Club with financial contributions, from which real and positive result come, like the success of Ruby Antosh.

“The Boys and Girls Club is a great example of an organization the VCLF wants to support,” says VCLF President Laurence Kaldor. “They are providing great and necessary services to our community, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

It’s estimated that helping someone like Ruby costs about $590 per year. That’s right, just $590, to help a child, impacted by life’s challenges, a person affected by our court system, yet turning out to be a shining star.

“There are a lot of Rubys out there in the San Fernando Valley,” tells Kaldor. “We’d like to help as many as possible. We love getting large corporate donations, but here’s a very concrete way an attorney, a judge, or a business person can make a real difference. For a donation of $590, we can help another Ruby next week.”