WILMINGTON, Calif. — On a densely populated street in Wilmington, lies an old building that was repurposed as the Wilmington Teen Center. In that building, Connie Calderon helped connect hundreds in the community like Jennifer Silva with resources and guidance.
“She helped everyone here in the community, and everyone that came here to the Teen Center was being helped by Connie,” Silva said.
Calderon spent most of her career as the Director of the Wilmington Teen Center, guiding troubled teens to make better choices and helping low-income families like Silva’s receive food and clothing.
“We were able to go watch the Dodgers play that year and have fun. My sister and three brothers got to go as a family to attend a baseball game that we’ve never attended before,” Silva said.
Calderon’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis forced her to spend the last decade in retirement. Recently, doctors told her family that she only has about two months to live. Her work inspired Silva to become a volunteer for the last six years.
As the current Director of the Wilmington Teen Center, Michael Herrera hopes to lead the next generation by her example.
“She received all kinds of awards. There’s tons of them all up on the walls and everything here. But the thing she liked the most was seeing a kid succeed,” Herrera said.
That’s why Herrera, Calderon’s family, and many of the families she’s helped came together to celebrate her life’s work of giving back to the community with a parade of more than 100 cars.
It was a bittersweet moment for Silva and her family as they patiently awaited their turn to thank her for all that she has given them. Silva, like many others in Wilmington, are sharing one last moment to show Calderon what she means to this community.
“As much as she gave and helped me, I would like to give the same back and make a difference to the community,” Silva said.
Now Silva, the community, and the other volunteers at the Wilmington Teen Center are hoping to keep her legacy going by finding ways to pay it forward.