Benjamin Estrada didn’t have custody of his four-year-old daughter when he started taking classes at the West County First 5 Center.
“For me, I had to start over. I had to build from the bottom up. I had made a decision that I was going to be a better parent, and the First 5 Center gave me a vision for how that could be possible,” said Benjamin.
Benjamin began visiting the center weekly while working to gain full custody of his daughter. Most of the time, he was the only dad in the class. But that never stopped him.
“My favorite class was the Triple P class. It really goes in depth about parenting. And you learn about all of your child’s developmental stages, and why the first five years are so important. The First 5 Center maps it out for you and makes it understandable. It helps you be a better parent,” he said.
Benjamin is now a single father with full custody of his daughter, who’s about to turn 10, and an active member of the West County Regional Group we sponsor. He also participates on the PTA at his daughter’s school.
“I went to the first Regional Group meeting and haven’t missed one since. We decide what to stand up for, for other parents and children. It’s so fulfilling and empowering,” Benjamin said. “The First 5 Center staff embraces everyone who walks through their door. They still embrace me when I come. I tell all my neighbors to go there.”
Last weekend, 135 residents joined members of the West County Regional Group and the City of San Pablo to clean up Davis Park in San Pablo. Participants collected 56 bags of garbage and disposed of several large dumped items including television sets, doors, and broken strollers.
Davis Park was deemed the park most in need of improvements in San Pablo after the Regional Group reviewed conditions at each of the city’s parks. One of the main concerns at Davis was the excessive dumping and trash that make the park feel unsafe and unattractive for families to use.