December 16, 2019 | Andrew Stead
  • Orange County, California is where Rose Espinoza moved with her husband in 1991. Soon enough the couple realised the neighbourhood wasn’t exactly the place where they wanted to raise their 8-year-old son.

    After a drive-by shooting in their street, the couple decided to create a night watch community. While some of their neighbours participated, others threatened them. However, the Espinozas weren’t discouraged. Rose had a very specific purpose – giving her son a better neighbourhood – and she wasn’t willing to give up!

    Perhaps they needed a different approach? She started to wonder what a bunch of out of control teenagers might need. How could she put change into action for the benefit of their whole community?

    She spoke to her neighbourhood, trying to understand what the community needed. She discovered that only 50% of the population spoke English as their first language and that the Spanish-speaking community saw the language gap as a big barrier. The children were struggling at school largely through linguistic frustration. And their parents were powerless as their English competence was even worse.

    The answer became clear. Tutoring - that’s what the community needed. And that was what Rose was always meant do to! She immediately transformed her garage into a free, after-school tutoring programme. Though many thought she was simply courting further problems, her unusual classroom was ready for action - with books, computers and a big dose of patience.

    Day 1, 16 kids showed up. In a few weeks the project was going so well she had to ask for help! She decided to recruit high school students with solid grades, as tutors.

    Her decision was a double win! Students struggling at school were exposed to a safe and nurturing environment, off the streets. And the strong students were learning a great lesson – that sharing creates stronger, powerful communities.

    What came later was literally incredible. Within only two years, academic scores rose as crime rates and gang membership fell. It was so successful that Rosie’s Garage had to move to a bigger location, and eventually several locations, as she successfully transformed gang members into A grade students!

    After almost 30 years of meaningful service to her community, Rose had more than achieved her mission and purpose: La Habra, in northern Orange Country, has never witnessed such low crime rates!

    Her passion project is now involved with numerous local governments, universities, and non-profit organisations, always improving the tutoring programmes available to students. They receive donations and support from former students and active community members.

    Imagine what each of us could do for our community, the world at large, and indeed for ourselves if we listened to our call!

    Maybe do yourself, and us all, a favour: answer that call!

    Have a great purposeful day,