Sal is a young man with a great deal of potential and determination. He has overcome many hardships with the help of positive role models and he has taken on that same role with many young children in the Hawthorne Community Center program.
Sal started coming to Hawthorne when he was 12 years old. The son of undocumented parents, Sal and his brother found Hawthorne to be a fun place to go after school and during summer day camp. His passion for baseball, wrestling and soccer were positive in keeping him out of trouble but he was also tempted to participate in some at risk behaviors like cutting school and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Sal found a positive role model in Brent Pedersen, the Hawthorne Youth Director. Brent had many one-on-one conversations with Sal about his plans for the future and what he needed to do to stay on track for a better life.
Sal participated in the Hawthorne Teen Club and eventually became a Jr. Counselor. During the summer months, Sal would work with the younger children at Hawthorne and engage them in the same sport activities that had been so powerful in his life. During the school year, Sal participated in the after school program at George Washington Community High School sponsored by Hawthorne. A particular program about science was presented by Goodwill and Sal was hooked on pursuing education and a career in the world of science.
During his senior year at George Washington, Sal’s life took a critical turn. His father left the household and the family faced foreclosure on their home. Sal used his small salary earned at Hawthorne to help his family to pay their bills and to keep food on the table. He enrolled at IUPUI and was accepted into the school of science.
Sal become an Americorp Volunteer. He was a valuable role model for many of the young boys who attend Hawthorne programs. Sal credits Brent Pedersen as the Hawthorne role model that helped him identify his goals and do the right things to meet those goals. He believes he would have never considered college were it not for the influence of Brent. His achievements might very well be related to his service and positive influence on the lives of hundreds of young people that come through the doors of Hawthorne Community Center.