by Promotor Pathway® Director Shayna Scholnick and Promotor Pathway® Clinical Supervisor Patty Santucci
Almost 17 years ago to the date, Franklin Peralta first made his mark as a staff member at LAYC. What he’s done in those 17 years is hard to put down on paper—from the countless number of youth he’s mentored, to the amount of center-wide activities he’s supported, to the hours he’s been there listening and encouraging— Franklin’s contributions to LAYC and to the youth who walk through our doors has been felt deeply by so many people.
Franklin grew up in this community and spent time as a young person himself at LAYC. Then as a staff member of the DC Teen Center, he wore many hats, including that of an outreach worker, a recreation specialist, and a gang prevention worker. No matter which role he was taking on, at the core was his ability to connect with the youth and develop lasting and truly powerful relationships that have endured to this day.
After leaving LAYC for a short time, he returned and joined the Promotor Pathway® team in 2013. As a Promotor, Franklin is matched with youth who experience a multiplicity of life challenges. No matter the challenges, Franklin’s approach is the same: he listens, he supports, he remains forever calm and patient; he never judges, and he never gives up on a single young person.
“Franklin is the definition of ‘paying it forward.’ Years ago he was a youth at LAYC, and for the past 17 years has been on the staff helping hundreds of young people. He understands the issues that the young people are facing, and as their mentor and Promotor, he helps them navigate the issues in their young lives. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the youth and the community,” said LAYC President & CEO Lori Kaplan.
It is an honor and privilege to be able to observe Franklin’s work. The way he engages and connects so easily allows for unconditional support, while at the same time challenges young people to step out of their comfort zone and consider new methods for decision-making. He inspires not only the youth he works with, but other staff as well. Franklin’s team members are often turning to him for his opinion and support because they know that even if they may not like what they hear, Franklin is always making sure he puts the best interest of the youth first. As one of his fellow Promotores, Natalia Diaz-Minaya, said best, “Franklin has played a very important role in our community. Both inside and out of LAYC, he is loved, admired, and respected for his unique ability to bring peace and understanding, and for allowing all who come to him to be who they truly are without the fear of being rejected or judged. I’ve witnessed first-hand how a few encouraging words—and on occasion “real talk,” along with a big ‘ol bear hug—have helped shape our future professionals.”
Franklin has many fans, but one of his biggest may be Joseph Arias, best known as “Gungui.” Franklin met Gungui many years ago when working in the DC Teen Center, then Franklin became Gungui’s Promotor from 2013–2015. Gungui is currently serving as an AmeriCorps member with LAYC.
“In life you meet people for various reasons. Some of those people act as doors of hope. It’s relatively hard to find someone who’s not your family that you can still consider a relative and hold the same respect for. The role you played in my teen life is nothing short of heroic. I faced many challenges and made terrible choices growing up, and despite those decisions, you were always there to give me that tough but valuable counsel. It’s never been a part of your job description to impact youth the way you do, but your work ethic proves your heart is made for this. A big thank you for helping establish my path on this whole fitness thing. It’s truly a big component of my life, which I haven’t strayed away from. You have this tough façade and everything, but deep down inside you’re a Care Bear beaming rainbows of compassion at people. Through your genuine care and tough words of affirmation, I’ve grown with a mentality you helped mold, which I’m deeply thankful for. I appreciate everything you’ve done thus far, and please continue being great because there are youth out there that need someone like you.”