EAST LOS ANGELES — Alex Hernandez and his wife Kelly spend their free time refurbishing old skateboards out of their backyard in East Los Angeles.

The husband and wife team started the nonprofit Havalina Skate Co., collecting old skateboards that they rejuvenate and then donate to kids from disadvantaged families.

On the first Saturday of the month, the couple passes out the refurbished boards at different skate parks in LA County.

Alex first stepped on a board when he was 13 and would be forever hooked. Now a father and grandfather in his 40s, he is still skating. Alex explained how this passion has kept him on track and opened doors for him. In every kid who receives a free skateboard from him, Alex sees a younger version of himself.

“It also teaches you when you keep falling and falling, you got to get back up,” he said. 

That is why Alex and Kelly have made it a mission to spread their love of skateboarding to others.

“The love we have for it, we figured we got to spread the love, and this is how we can,” said Alex.

“With knowing the kids that we are giving them to are kids that have been through hard times, kids that are struggling. Times are tough, but I’m tougher,” said Kelly. “It’ll keep you out of trouble. I’m pretty sure it kept me out of trouble because I’d get up and want to go skateboarding every day. Plus. It’s a good community.”

Skateboarding changed Alex’s life, and he wants to keep those wheels of change rolling in disadvantaged communities.

“Just the joy, the excitement that they get is why we do this, why we keep doing this. We love doing what we do. We can’t imagine doing anything else now,” said Kelly.

Havalina Skate Co. will host its next board donation and collection on May 29 at the Uptown Whittier Artist Alley from 5-9 p.m. on the 6700 block of Greenleaf Avenue.

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