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HOLA’s Parent & Community Resource Center promotes parent awareness of the community services and educational opportunities that will help parents support the success of their children.


HOLA offers a diverse array of workshops to bring parents into the HOLA family. Parent and Community Resource Director Veronica Matos leads a weekly book circle for parents of HOLA kids. Veronica chooses books with themes the parents can relate to, including themes of family and the immigrant experience in America. Veronica also leads workshops for the parents on a variety of topics, including: options for local high schools, drugs and gangs, diversity in the community, and navigating the new Affordable Care Act.


The Center provides referrals for outside resources and assistance with issues such as education, health, immigration, transportation, mental health and financial assistance. The Center has also developed partnerships with local resources in order to provide valuable links to parent-friendly resources and basic needs providers to support the needs of HOLA’s families.

Current activities and services for parents:

  • Volunteer opportunities (Snack Shack, YOLA, classroom helpers)
  • College Roundtables, informational and educational workshops
  • English as a Second Language classes
  • Arts and craft classes
  • Translation services
  • Referrals to local resources for basic needs
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Help supporting effective communication between parents and teachers

Photo of Veronica Matos
Veronica Matos Parent and Community Resource Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x223
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The Kitchen: Chef Alex’s Fruit Smoothie

Perfect for a hot summer day, a quick easy breakfast, or when you just don’t have time to get your daily dose of fruit the old fashioned way. All you need is a blender. Ingredients: Frozen fruit (any mix of raspberries, mango, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.) 1 frozen banana, peeled and cut into chunks (if you froze bananas before peeling, watch this video on how to peel: http://goo.gl/j97da) Nonfat yogurt Juice (orange, cranberry, pomegranate, etc.) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) 1 teaspoon honey (optional) Protein powder […]

The Kitchen: Chef Alex’s Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burgers are a delicious, cheap, and healthy alternative to meat for dinner, even for non-vegetarians! This is a basic recipe, but feel free to add your favorite chopped vegetables and spices to make it your own. One way to make it even healthier and more filling is to add cooked quinoa to the patties. One can of black beans should be good for about 4 hamburger sized patties, and they’ll hold up well in the fridge. The black bean burgers pair great with […]

The Kitchen: Chef Alex’s Spanish Tortilla

This recipe comes to us all the way from the fragrant kitchens of España. It is similar to a frittata or omelet, but is traditionally served at room temperature. The easiest way to cook this dish is to prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time. This recipe can take over an hour from start to finish, so it’s best to cook on a lazy Sunday and have leftovers all week. Feel free to substitute your favorite meats and vegetables! Ingredients: 3/4 cup olive oil […]

The Kitchen: Chef Alex’s Tomatillo Chicken

Tomatillo chicken is an easy dish that you can easily decide the spice level of, depending on your culinary audience. You can serve it by itself, but it’s best served over rice. Make sure you have a blender before you get started! All ingredients can be found cheaply at your local corner market, often cheaper than at the supermarket. Ingredients: 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast 1.5 pounds green tomatillos with papery skin peeled off 1 chili guajillo 4cloves garlic 1 onion, diced 1-3 jalapeños […]

The Kitchen: Chef Alex’s Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup is a delicious way to eat vitamin-rich brightly colored vegetables and makes a quick and easy appetizer to pair with a meatier main course. Ingredients: 1 stick butter (substitute half for vegetable oil to reduce fat) 1 cup chopped celery 1 big butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes 1.5 cup of red onion 1 cup green onion 5 garlic cloves 8 cups chicken broth (or 1 cup for each person being served) 1 cup of cream cheese Pinch […]

The Kitchen: Chef Alex’s Healthy Breakfast Quesadillas

By themselves, quesadillas are not the healthiest food. But add in chopped vegetables and whole wheat tortillas and remove the butter and you have a delicious breakfast that will please even the pickiest of eaters. Best served with a side of fruit and guacamole or salsa on top! Ingredients: Whole wheat tortillas Shredded cheese (cheddar is best) 1 red onion, diced 1 green pepper, diced 1 red pepper, diced 1 package of mushrooms, diced 4 eggs 1 can of refried beans Olive oil Instructions: Heat […]

Oldest HOLA Alum Writes Memoir

  Twenty-six years ago, HOLA began as five kids, one volunteer and a basketball in a church basement. This month, Jonathan Orozco, one of HOLA’s original five, returned to HOLA to share his thoughts and new book with the parents of our Bridges middle school students.  “No matter how busy you are, make time for you kids,” he advised a packed room. “Talk to your kids about who they are and where they come from. A strong sense of identity and belonging could save their lives.” Born in […]

Blending Cultures via Dia De Los Muertos

In some American families, it’s common to want to shield our young ones from the bleakness of death and grief. In an attempt to soften pain and fear, children are told privately and delicately when unavoidable tragedies occur. But in varying Latin American cultures, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), brings light and a sense of comfort to the realities of mortality — and an opportunity to celebrate the lives of loved ones who’ve died. This holiday’s history is not limited to one particular nation or […]

HOLA Parents Get to Learn Too

It’s not just the kids participating in all sorts of great activities at HOLA. Parents of HOLA students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of classes each session led by HOLA staff and volunteers. HOLA’s Parent and Community Resource Director, Vero Matos, leads a Book Club throughout the year, with books and discussions held primarily in Spanish. The group is currently reading Cuando Era Puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. Recently, an art class for the parents was revived with the help of local artist […]

Middle School Students Visit Pepperdine

In what has become an annual tradition, more than 20 middle school students and their parents traveled to Malibu with Bridges Director Silvia Velazquez and HOLA Parent and Community Resource Director Veronica Matos for a guided tour of Pepperdine University. The group was the guest of Professor George Carlsen, Assistant Professor in the Hispanic Studies Department and the students in his advanced Spanish class. The tour was conducted in Spanish and included the main campus sights – the library, cafeteria, dorms, chapel, student union and […]

Moms Book Club

For nearly a year, about a dozen moms (and one dad) of Heart of LA students have been meeting to discuss the latest book on the agenda. Veronica Matos, HOLA’s Parent and Community Resource Director, wasn’t sure what to expect when she came up with the idea, but the Moms Book Club quickly took off. All of the participants in the Club are Spanish speakers, so the books they read are in Spanish as well. The Club meets during programming, so any siblings who are […]

HOLA Hosts Cash for College Event

On the first Saturday in February, Heart of Los Angeles hosted a Cash for College event to provide one-on-one support to students and families completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application. These applications are required to be completed in order to qualify for state and federal financial aid. Sixty-seven students completed their applications: 55 completed the FAFSA and 12 completed the Dream Act Application. The students and their parents started arriving before the doors opened at 9:00 […]

The Gift of Sight

A huge thank you goes out to Michael Banks, the Reatail Manager of the LensCrafters, Beverly Plaza, for providing free exams AND glasses for 19 Heart of Los Angeles youth. For many of our youth, eye exams and glasses are often out of reach when their family struggles daily just to put food on the table. For others, trouble in school can be attributed to poor eyesight, but again, they don’t have the means to get tested. This holiday season, Michael and his staff, gave […]

Parents and Kids Learn About Options for High School

Heart of Los Angeles middle school students and their parents had the opportunity to hear from representatives from local public and private high schools. Representatives from 5 high schools and one after-school program came to HOLA to share a little bit about their schools/program, the application process and to answer questions. The room was packed with middle school students from the Bridges and YOLA at HOLA programs and their parents. The night began with brief introductions, in English and then translated into Spanish by Veronica […]

Parents of Alumni Provide Advice

Recently, an extraordinary event happened at Heart of Los Angeles. A panel of parents of HOLA alumni assembled at HOLA to speak with the current class of high school seniors and their parents. For anyone who has gone to college or sent a child to college, you know all too well that this is an extremely tumultuous time for the seniors and their parents. For many of these families, this is the first time they are dealing with the idea of college. They have questions, […]

A Special Trip to the Movies

On a recent Saturday morning, two HOLA staff members accompanied a number of Bridges middle school students and their moms to Universal Studios to see a screening of the Spanish-language comedy Instructions Not Included. Silvia Velazquez, Bridges Director, and Vero Matos, Parent and Community Resource Director, led the charge, walking the group to the metro for the ride to Universal Studios. For many of the members of the group, this was their first time in a movie theatre and the reviews for the film were […]

Middle School Students Visit Pepperdine University

On a beautiful Saturday, more than 20 middle school students and their parents journeyed with Bridges Director, Silvia Velazquez and HOLA Parent and Community Resource Director, Veronica Matos, for a guided tour of Pepperdine University in Malibu. The group was the guest of Professor George Carlsen, Assistant Professor in the Hispanic Studies Department and the students in his advanced Spanish class. The tour was conducted in Spanish and included the main campus sights – the library, cafeteria, dorms, chapel, student union and several classrooms. It’s […]

Parents Attend Workshop on School Choice

The Laker Reading Room was jam-packed last week as parents of Bridges middle school students gathered to hear a presentation on what to look for when choosing a high school for their children. Representatives from the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Parent Academy shared with the assembled group several factors to consider when assessing a school. Josefina Viramontes and Ignacio Rojas walked the parents through the meaning of a school’s Academic Yearly Performance (AYP) and Academic Performance Index (API). The AYP is a statewide […]

Dreamers Form Support/Action Network at HOLA

In June, the Obama Administration announced that undocumented immigrants under the age of 30, who came to the United States before the age of 16, would be eligible for a two-year deferral from deportation and be able to apply for work permits. HOLA is located in a community that is greatly impacted by this directive. In an effort to sort through the process, HOLA’s Parent and Community Resource Director enlisted a representative from the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County to hold a workshop […]

HOLA at Community Resource Fair

On June 2, HOLA participated in the Family is Strength: Family is the Foundation of our Community Resource Fair at the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park. The Fair was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development, the Department of Recreation & Parks, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. HOLA had an information booth and manned an arts & crafts table that was busy all day long. Thank you to Cenaida, HOLA Scholar in Residence, and Brigid, dedicated YOLA at HOLA […]

ESL Classes and Clothing Give Away for Parents

HOLA’s Parent and Community Resource Director, Veronica Matos, has been very busy lately. During this current session, Vero enlisted Yvette, a long time HOLA volunteer, to teach an English as a Second Language (ESL) class for a group of HOLA moms. The moms meet weekly and have been hard at work improving their skills. The session will culminate in a visit to the beach, an English only field trip. Last month Vero, Alex (HOLA’s Operations Director) and a number of HOLA moms sorted through and […]

HOLA Hosts a Workshop for Parents

More that 40 HOLA parents attended a workshop about reading for success. In this interactive workshop presented by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), the parents learned the importance of reading with their children — how to develop their vocabulary, increase their comprehension and develop interest in reading as a life long learning skill. The parents left with many useful and fun tips for motivating their children to read. This is the second of three workshops provided by LACOE through their Parent Academy. […]

HOLA Launches Scholars in Residence Program

Heart of Los Angeles is thrilled to announce the launch of the HOLA Scholars in Residence Program, a year-long paid residency for HOLA alumni. The goal of the program is to provide two exceptional young men/women with the guidance and support of mentors, real-world job experience and the opportunity to invest in the community they grew up in. To be eligible for the Program, the students must be HOLA alumni, currently enrolled in college and have an interest in a career in education and/or social […]

HOLA Staff Participates in Inaugural Take A Stand Symposium

The entire YOLA at HOLA staff and Veronica Matos, HOLA’s Parent and Community Resource Director, participated in and facilitated workshops during the first annual Take A Stand Symposium held in Los Angeles during the first week of February. The Symposium focused on driving the collective thinking of the El Sistema movement forward. Through inspiring speakers, interactive workshops, and global networking opportunities, attendees explored compelling tools to turn inspiration into action. The Symposium was capped off with a keynote conversation among the the leaders of the […]

Meet Vero: HOLA’s Parent & Community Resource Director

Veronica Matos, or Vero to those who know her, has been working at HOLA for the past five years and has been in her current position for two years. “How do you describe what you do?” I bridge the gap between the educational and cultural world the HOLA kids are living in and what their parents know or are aware of. “How do you do that?” In a variety of ways: I provide workshops on different topics or issues of concern to the parents. During […]


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