When you become part of a community, it becomes part of you

Doug and Nina copy

L.A. GOAL Member Doug H. recently sat down with our very-much-loved adult education volunteer, Nina Warner, to ask her about her best L.A. GOAL memories, what’s most unique about L.A. GOAL, and what keeps her coming back week after week.

We shared a shortened version of this interview in our 2016 Newsletter (in print). We are excited, thanks to the virtues of the internet, to be able to share the full interview here!

Doug: What have you learned since coming to L.A. GOAL?  

Nina: I’ve been here since 2012…someone told me if you want to come in and smile and have friendly conversations with people, nice people, then this is the place to be. I wanted to help as much as I could. I knew everyone would be teaching and learning at different levels. I learned everyone is at their own speed and we apply our knowledge as necessary. Whether its math or English or accounting skills, everyone is working at their own pace

…When you mirror back to Members and show them what you are hearing, that’s part of what I can help them with. I can help them understand what they know and what they don’t know. A lot of us get isolated and not a lot is asked of us until we get asked a specific question. I don’t try to challenge people too hard, but I try to raise the bar.

Doug: What is your favorite memory from L.A. GOAL? 

Nina: Shoot, there’s so many. I enjoy the group participation. I enjoy when we split into a group circle and people make each other laugh or someone has a brilliant idea and everybody knows it and is excited by it. People are turned on by acknowledging that, “hey, we’re learning some good stuff. I enjoy this place and my fellow students.” I like the camaraderie and the close-knit part of it. Everyone is willing to learn and be a part of it.


Doug: How is L.A. GOAL special, unique, or different from “the rest of the world”? 

Nina: It’s a very unique environment. There are very kind people working here and everyone tries to nurture people and discipline when needed. The emphasis is on promoting the good in everybody. That kindness permeates. You see it everywhere. You see it in art, you see it in lunch, you see it in setting up responsibilities for people. The best in people is brought out. It’s a nonthreatening environment. It’s loving and nurturing and people are enthusiastic. People are happy to come and be together. Everyone’s strengths are strengthened here. There’s so many hidden special talents for people here that I’m so impressed by.


Doug: Everyone can grow in their dreams

Nina: And your dreams are allowed to flourish here. There are a lot of green lights and not red lights. You get try, try, try. It’s small and it’s intimate and there’s enough volunteers to help and if people are doing well in certain areas they can move to different areas. I think it’s a good goal—gaining confidence and gaining independence. And that’s what people can do here.


Doug: Everybody has their own stories

Nina: Everyone has their own story, their own set of expectations, their hopes and dreams.

…When I see people here I know I like them because they are choosing to be here. Here, the greater good is promoted in a learning environment. The best is promoted, and that brings out the best in everybody.


Has L.A. GOAL changed you? If so, how?  

I didn’t get into teaching early in my career. In the last 5-8 years, I got involved in teaching. It helped me access a quality I like, which is to nurture others. It’s very much part of my personality. It gives me an outlet for it. I worked in a very busy school and was exhausted all the time and sometimes you lose sight of why you’re there because you’re so tired.

But here, it’s the highlight of my week. If you can fill your basket up with good things, you can look forward to the good things, that’s excellent. Here, I have an active role and feel good about my participation and feel good about your wellbeing. It’s become part of me. When you become part of a community, it becomes part of you. That’s what this community is about. People look out for one another and people really care for each other and their wellbeing.


Doug: L.A. GOAL is a family

Nina: That’s right. This program has a lot of heart. I love walking in that door. You get greeted. Hello, how are you, nice to see you, a handshake. Everybody’s your buddy.


Doug: Everybody here loves everybody. L.A. GOAL Members, L.A. GOAL staff, teachers.

Nina: Yes, and the real world is different. I’m happy to be a part of a community with such a great heart.