From the desk of Amy Friedman
POPS the Club Executive Director and Co-Founder

Many of our POPS the Club students came across the very border where children recently have been torn from their families and sent to detention facilities. These recent events remind many at POPS the Club of their own separateness, separateness that is only exacerbated by the social isolation of having a parent impacted by the prison system.

One of those young people is Valeria De La Torre.

Valeria first came to a POPS meeting in her senior year at Venice High. She came because a few of her classmates had opened up about their experiences with incarceration, and their openness inspired her. She says that from day one she loved the way the room felt so safe, and she felt a community coming together as she describes it, “with love and support and understanding.” 
“POPS helped me become comfortable and able to speak about my struggles. I want everyone to know that POPS is an awesome organization that helps young people grow—whether it’s through writing or drawing or just listening. POPS helps young people feel free to take action in their lives.”

Valeria graduated from Venice in 2016. She now works and attends college and recently completed an internship at Kaiser Permanente. Valeria credits POPS with introducing her to many of the amazing people she has met and instilling in her the confidence to share her story, one she has shared on stages across the city, hoping to inspire and encourage others who are coping with “the pain of the prison system.”
Your donation , of any amount you choose to give, will help us to support and provide opportunities for sharing the stories of young women like Valeria whose poem below was first published in the third POPS Anthology, Before There Were Bars .

I Come from a Place I Once Didn’t Know
By Valeria De La Torre

I come from a place I once didn’t know
The place I was born, down south across the border.
One day I asked my mom when we could go visit.
She said, “There’s no way back after.”

I come from 14% of K-12 undocumented students
Who want to pursue the American Dream.
I come from every teardrop
I’ve seen roll down my mother’s cheek
Because the vision of that dream
Isn’t always bright.

I come from a country I don’t know
But wish one day to
Go back and meet.

Thank you in advance, and with gratitude,

Amy Friedman
Executive Director and Co-Founder
POPS the Club
P.O. Box 10461
Marina Del Rey, CA 90295