Actor Danny Trejo (center) with YouthSource Center participants from Community for Responsible Community Development and EWDD General Manager Jan Perry (third from right)
In a heartfelt, humorous, and candid conversation, Actor Danny Trejo shared his life story with a room full of 75 young Angelenos from EWDD’s YouthSource Centers, describing his transformation from a prison inmate with a drug addiction to a successful actor, entrepreneur and drug counselor who has dedicated his life to helping others.

“Everything good that has happened to me is a direct result of helping someone else,” he said. “I promise you, the more people you help in one day, the better your life is going to get. It’s just the way it works.”

Mr. Trejo was the inaugural guest in EWDD’s “A Conversation With…” series. EWDD Youth Operations Director Brenda Anderson launched the series to provide an opportunity for the City’s YouthSource participants to interact with influencers who faced similar challenges and overcame obstacles to build successful careers. Upcoming discussion topics include mental health, foster care and homelessness.

During the event, held at Goodwill Southern California on Tuesday July 24, 2018, Mr. Trejo fielded questions from youth about how to maintain sobriety, resist peer pressure and set a positive example. Many also asked Mr. Trejo to provide his definition of personal success.

“Success is how I feel about myself,” he said. “There’s gonna be people that don’t make as much money and there’ll be people that make more money. It’s like I got a couple cars I love, I got a house, that kind of stuff, but really, y’know. I wish I could explain to you, how good I’m going to feel when I drive out of here. Not leaving you, but knowing that I did his work. And that’s success. Knowing that I’m doing God’s work, that I might just help one of his kids. Wow, that’s success for me.”

Many youth expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet Mr. Trejo and said the event was a valuable learning experience.

“The most memorable moment was when I saw him come in. It was my first time meeting someone with a similar background as mine, someone who I could identify and has inspired me to better myself. He has changed his life and is now sending a positive message to the community. Thank you for the experience,” said Ricky Leon, a youth from the Para Los Niños YouthSource Center.

Learn more about EWDD Youth Services and the YouthSource Centers

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of 7/23/2018. Read this issue and more.