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April 14, 2010 > Leaders creating leaders: The East Side Heroes Story

Leaders creating leaders: The East Side Heroes Story

By Supervisor Dave Cortese and Enrique S. Flores

When I first met Enrique Flores, I was instantly drawn to his electric personality and his motivation to help others. Seeing first-hand the opportunities for success that Enrique has created through his non-profit organization, East Side Heroes, I was energized by his charisma and joined the Board of Directors. In just five years, East Side Heroes has raised over $200,000 to provide scholarships to private high schools for its low-income mentees while also providing leadership-development and mentorship. The following is an introduction to two of the latest success stories.

East Side Heroes
By Enrique Flores, Founder

When I first met Ana Plascencia, (as an 8th grade student), I was truly worried about her. Ana was on the fast-track to being a stereotypical statistic, which is the story of too many young Latinas. Ana's peer group dressed the same, talked the same and thought the same. I feared she would soon fall in love with an active gang member, become pregnant, consume drugs and alcohol on a regular basis, lose faith in the value of school and settle for a minimum-wage job.

When I first met Alma Acosta (as an 8th grade student), I noticed a lonely, introverted girl who had big dreams. I saw hope in her eyes - hope of being the first person in her family to graduate from college to help her family rise above low-income status, help her community and blaze a trail for both her younger sisters.

When I first met Ana and Alma's parents, they reminded me of my own. They had no idea of how to navigate the process of applying to a college-preparatory high school and completing financial aid forms; what they knew, however, is they would do whatever it takes to help their children "make it" in life. Immigrant parents like Alma's and Ana's, and mine too, have a common belief - "The best inheritance we can leave our children is a good education".

An education cannot be taken away, a college degree never decreases in value and a quality education always gives back to the student and others.

This June, both Ana and Alma will celebrate a family dream - achieving a high school diploma. Four years ago, East Side Heroes awarded scholarship aid to both young women, at our annual banquet, because we believed what they said. Ana and Alma vowed to themselves and their family that they would give 100 percent each and every day until they achieved all their goals.

This April, East Side Heroes will celebrate Ana and Alma's fulfillment of that promise. They have maintained a 4.2 GPA and applied to various colleges, such as Santa Clara University and Stanford University. On April 17, Ana and Alma will reveal which university they will attend in the fall. Ana's career goal is to become a medical doctor to provide pro-bono services to low-income families throughout impoverished countries. Alma aspires to become a legal attorney to help achieve equality and empowerment for all women.

Each year, East Side Heroes' volunteers work hard to raise scholarship funds for other 8th grade students, who still dare to dream big dreams. East Side Heroes currently has six other students studying at Notre Dame High School, Archbishop Mitty High School and Bellarmine College Prep.

Please join us in our vow to support East Side Heroes' students as they continue relentlessly on their individual quest.

For more information, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, visit or email Enrique Flores at

East Side Heroes Student Achievement Banquet
Saturday, April 17
4 - 6 p.m.
Roosevelt Community Center
901 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
(408) 515-6544

Tickets: $150 per person

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