In the spring of 2013, while I was frantically trying to finish up my master’s degree and administrative credential program, I received a call from Richard, my former teacher’s aide. He wanted to start up his own nonprofit organization based on this 10,000 PLUS project that he had begun a couple of years earlier and he wanted me to help him. Without really knowing what I was getting myself into, I agreed.
“Helping” quickly became “being board president”. The job came with a steep learning curve and at times I wasn't sure how to balance this role with my other roles at home and at work. However, in the end I gained much more than I ever gave: I met many interesting people from all different walks of life; I honed my leadership skills; and most importantly I gained the satisfaction of being part of an organization that inspires thousands of students each year.
It has been such an honor to serve as board president for the last four years. During my tenure I have seen the PLUS ME project grow from one program with one presenter to an organization that now offers four different programs with multiple presenters and volunteers. I am so proud of the work that our team has done under Richard’s dynamic leadership. As I step down from the board and into my new role as a volunteer, I look forward to seeing the PLUS ME project continue to grow and expand--inspiring more students here in Southern California and beyond….maybe even in Brazil!
- Vivian Chen, Founding Board President ('13 - '17)
My name is Sally Melchor and I was born and raised in Koreatown with my younger sister. Both my parents are from Puebla, Mexico and they met here in the U.S. I attend the Los Angeles High School of the Arts at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools and am involved in several extracurricular activities inside and outside my school.
When I started working with the PLUS ME project, I was in a mentor summit provided by GEAR UP 4 LA at Occidental College. I’ll be honest, that day, working with Jessica from PLUS ME changed the way I view my life. Usually, when someone would ask me to tell them something interesting about myself I, a typical teen, would respond with “There’s nothing interesting to tell you” or just “I don’t know”, but PLUS ME changed that. Now I'm able to tell people my accomplishments and what I find cool about my life - even if it's not. It helped me understand my story and literally get my life together. During the program I was able to listen and understand other people’s personal stories which allowed me to connect with them in an emotionally significant way. The experience was so memorable that I was inspired to mention the program to the administrators at Heart of Los Angeles. HOLA offers tutoring services and college prep courses to students and I knew HOLA would be intrigued by PLUS ME. The second time I worked with PLUS ME Project was actually through HOLA with Marlene and Richard. What I absolutely love about PLUS ME is that it has the same effect on everyone; we are all able to connect and get to know each other well.
For years I wondered who I would become and what I would make out of that person. Now, because of PLUS ME, I have found interest in psychology and human resources. This program has helped many, myself included, discover who they are and what story they have, because as the PLUS ME project says “our stories matter”.