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A Place That Felt Like Home

By Laura Casavantes

One place, one person, one action is all it takes to change someone's life in a matter of seconds. For me, it was a place called Gold Crown that I've had the pleasure of going to since I was a 13-year-old girl. More than six years later I am now an aspiring, goal-driven 19-year-old young adult thanks to Gold Crown. This place has not only shaped me into the young woman I am today, but has provided so many opportunities for me to achieve my goals and dreams and has allowed me to be where I am in life today.

Gold Crown Foundation is a non-profit organization. The Gold Crown Field House is located in Lakewood, Colo., if you don't know what a field house is. It's basically a building with a huge basketball court. They run volleyball and basketball tournaments, they also allow different events and practices, etc. But beyond all that located near the back there is a room known as the Best Buy Teen Tech Center. It's kind of a mouthful, I know. I've always just called it gold crown or clubhouse, that's where I mainly spent my time. It all started about six and a half years ago. I was in 6th grade and my class got to go on a field trip to the Clubhouse and we did projects, ate food and learned how to use a laser printer to engrave things on wood. But little did I know this place would soon become a place I considered like a home, with people I considered family. After the field trip I enjoyed it so much I just kept going every day after that, and every day after school I would go to the Clubhouse and learn and experience so many things. I have always been a creative person and going there made me feel like I could express who I am and be creative and be around people who encouraged me to do what I want. If I wanted to create a robotic drawing dinosaur they would make it happen because at Gold Crown that's the type of energy they want to create; to make you feel like you can do and achieve anything. The mentors really wanted to create a space where if you wanted to make or do something that you are passionate about they made it happen. Because of that mentality I was around so much as a kid, I grew up feeling determined and motivated in life and knew if I set my mind to it I can do and accomplish anything I want in life.

In a way I guess you could say this place saved me, I believe if Ii never went on that field trip i would of been a troubled dull teen with no motivation in life, because honestly I was hanging out with people I shouldn’t have been hanging out with and doing things I shouldn't have been doing at a young age. But with that said, I was fortunate enough to find a place that allowed me to be creative and gave me amazing opportunities. For example, because of the Clubhouse I got my first job at Gold Crown at the age of 15. I joined a program they had called College to Career Pathways c to Success (C2C for short) and with that program came amazing opportunities. I learned how to build a resume, how to network, how to act and present myself during job interviews and learned life lessons they don't teach kids in school. By joining this program and just knowing all the right people because of Gold Crown I got to get ahead of the game called life and just experience and learn things no normal 15-16 year old would experience. I got to be a part of two paid internships by the age of 18, one at 16 which was a business internship, and another at the age of 18 was a medical internship where I got to interact with patients and gain real medical experience.

To many this place is an after-school type program where they can come hang out with their friends. To me it's a place where I grew up mentally and matured into the person I am today. Where I meet so many amazing mentors and peers. To them I am forever grateful because what made Gold Crown a home to me were the people in it and I can honestly say there wasn't one mentor who I don't get along with because I could tell they truly cared for me and pushed me to succeed and they all wanted the best for me in life. This place and the people in it are my family and I'll never forget that, because of them and because of Gold Crown I am the woman I am today, a motivated, strong, independent, goal-driven woman all thanks to a field trip I once took six years ago.

Note: Laura is currently working at a rehabilitation center while pursuing a degree in medical assisting. She hopes to work as a medical sonographer once she graduates.