Nothing defines you. I think your amount of hustle and the amount of energy you put into whatever you’re doing, that’s what defines you. Push, you can make something. You can make something positive and be somebody positive. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be the tough guy all the time. I got a 1948 Chevy coupe. Old patina paint job. It’s just like a kind of a survivor. We got big plans for this ’48. Getting the visor on. Air bagging the rear. Probably custom make some different skirts for it. Just researching and finding a lot of the chrome and the stainless that’s missing. Just to make it a cool, fun, car. The engine is a 250, six cylinder, out of a ’70s El Camino. The patina paint job was shot black first and then sprayed with a tan over it. And we sand through it with a 1500 grit sand paper and polish through it to give it that older look. We’ve done $15,000 paint jobs and you’re scared to drive it.
So this one here, it looks old, has a good feel, and you’re not worried to park it at the grocery store, at the parts store. So as a daily driver, it’s perfect. It was actually, it was a friend of mine. She had the car. She had it for a while and she had someone else do some work to it. And it just kinda had sat. Just kinda was an eyesore in front of the house for a while and I saw it and it was, okay I gotta figure out how to get this.
I think we can do something cool with it. For a few years in my childhood I lived in Pico Rivera. And it was Whittier Boulevard that cruised through Pico every Friday night. I had more of a draw towards the older cars than the ’70s and the ’80s. The styles in the ’30s of the cars, nothing really compares. When I go cruising out here, we live in the high desert. So, it’s anywhere out here, you’re in the middle of nowhere within five minutes. It almost doesn’t matter wherever you’re going as long you’re in something cool. I think driving in an old car, driving in a bomb, driving a lowrider, there is that sense of being in the moment. A lot of my cars I don’t put radios in. You’re hearing the road. You’re hearing the tires. You’re hearing the exhaust, the engine. You’re hearing everything. Every nut and bolt squeaking on that old car.
Being in an old car, being in a bomb, or being in a lowrider, that’s where I feel I can relax. I can think. I can be settled. I was born in L.A. in 1979 and we just, we moved and bounced a lot. It was my mom and I and then a brother and another brother, and every six months to a year or two years we were in a new school. New city, new town. From east coast, west coast. It was like your standard broken home story of a lot of people. Dad’s gone, mom doing what she can, but you know, she’s trying, she’s in her own world. And the older I got, the more I started to understand that everybody does what they need to do for themselves and that’s life.
In that process, a lot of us were exposed to a lot of things. We grew up in a drug house, a lot of violence, and a lot of having to grow up really fast at a young age. There wasn’t really a positivity around. So it was real easy to fall into something bad. So about 14, I got into hanging out with some wrong dudes and I was smoking weed earlier. Got into doing meth about 14. Messed around with heroin off and on. Hit 18 and I’m in and out of jail and I didn’t think I was gonna live to see 21. Everyone reaches a fork in the road at some point. And you can either use all of that to send you on this selfish, cold hearted path, which I understand, I get it.
Or you can use that as a stepping stone. Use it as something positive. Flip the script on that and turn it around. You know I got into rehab and honestly I never looked back. It was just, I could breathe, I could relax. There was people that cared. People that put time in to see me excel. And from then on my life’s just been about work and trying to be positive.
Try and be someone that other people can depend on. Honestly, I feel proud every time that someone calls me for help. That I’ve gone from someone no one wanted around, that they called the cops on. To now that they call when they need help. Like I enjoy that. I like that. So it’s 2000, 2001, I picked up a barely running 1956 Buick. Did some work to it but didn’t know a whole lot. The brakes went out and I flew through an intersection and almost crashed. I figured man, I didn’t know what was, I didn’t know how to fix it. I had no idea. I didn’t have a floor jack to take the wheels off. Took it to a shop and they charged me $1,000 to do the brakes. I felt like I got burned. So from that point, I wanted to know how to fix everything myself. I wanted to know. So I just started pretty much just stabbing the car with screwdrivers and trying to figure stuff out. And asking a lot of questions. There was a few people who I guess saw the motivation.
Saw that I was gonna keep asking whether you were giving me the answers or not. And some people got involved and actually took the time and showed me some stuff. And whether it was as simple as here, look at how I did it on my car, and copy that and talk to me later. There was a lot of that. So you really had to fight for the information. And I never went to school for it. I never went to seminars or colleges for this stuff. I just, if you want it bad enough, it’ll show up. You’ll get it. So I’ve been clean and sober a few years and working. And opened my small business as an entrepreneur working on cars for people and you know, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you have some projects that are just a nightmare. And from that, maybe having self pity, or just feeling like man, my life’s messed up, this sucks.
I started volunteering at the homeless shelter. Being of service for someone else took me out of myself. And I knew what it was like to be homeless. I was in those lines. I’ve been working for the soup kitchens for a few years volunteering and I’m watching kids grow up in the food lines. I’m watching this dad come through with his one year old daughter. And years later, I’m giving that same little girl school supplies for first grade. That little girl’s growing up in food lines. She’s growing up in that lifestyle. Out here, we’re number one in foster care population in all of L.A. County. So there’s a high concentration of kids that are growing up in foster. 50% of all kids aging out of foster care end up homeless within the first six months. That’s a horrible number. I want to do something more than a plate of food and a backpack.
I never had any business background, had any philanthropy background, I didn’t know anybody that’s started a non-profit. There was no how did you do it, who’d you ask? I didn’t ask anybody, we just did it. Scrounged together a lot of extra parts and put together a 1931 Ford Roadster. Sold raffle tickets. Raised money and we gave it to the homeless shelter for the kids to go to Disneyland. To have adventures and to have good school clothes. That stuff’s important at that age. And it evolved even further to give a man a fish or teach a man to fish.
So instead of just here’s some money, here’s some stuff. It was like, man well we can open the door and these kids from the community can come in here and learn how to weld. Learn how to work on cars. Learn body work and learn how to create a life for themself outside of the life that’s already been laid out in front of you. In 2014, we formed Lost Angels Children’s Project which started as a way to just combat child homelessness. And grew into an afterschool program in industrial arts. There’s no requirement, no money.
Everything is free. You show up, fill out the paperwork. Everyday you gotta come in, sign in, just have a good attitude. No swearing, no racism, no bullying, and just have a willingness to learn. Everyone, 13, 14, 15 years old, everyone starts the same. There’s no line between kids that have been in trouble and kids that haven’t been in trouble yet. You know, we’re all on the same page. And trying to create that community where we’re all together. Everyday, I always want to make sure a kid’s got a good plate of food. We all sit down together. We all eat together. We all just talk about the day. Talk about whatever. Jokes, clowning around, but there’s a sense of comraderies. I feel a lot of kids maybe get their food and go to their room and eat or whatever.
But to just to be able to open up and know that everybody’s really on the same page, I feel it’s an important thing, that family atmosphere. You know, some of these kids are told they’re a disappointment everyday by somebody. And it’s not here. So that’s a big one. That we always got your back. We always love you. We’re here for you to be about you. A youngster that I knew and he was always a good kid, and he started getting involved with some dark stuff. Had a kid and was trying to change his ways, trying to get out of that gang, and had an opportunity for a job welding, but didn’t know how to weld.
Came through and taught him how to weld. Gave him a crash course. And he went off, he got that job. Took that job and excelled into a better job. And now he travels around the United States welding. Just bought a house and taking care of his family. And I mean, that’s an amazing success story. We were just the opportunity. We were just the place for him to come and learn how to do it. He did all the hustle himself. He did all the hard work. We just had the spot for him to come and the tool for him to learn, to practice on.
That’s all it was. And that’s really in a sense, what this is. This is just a place and we’re just people who are trying to give opportunity. We do a lot of different stuff here. We build all of our own furniture, all of our own tables. We recently got in contact with the local Sheriff’s Department and they wanted us to make some tables for one of their rooms, for one of their offices. So I feel that’s a great connection. And it kinda breaks down some of that stigma with lowriding, with some of our kids who have already been in trouble. A lot of cops are normal people, regular people. So it’s kinda breaking down a barrier that now some of our kids are actually working with the local Sheriff’s Department. And that’s a great, it’s a step in the right direction.
Every year we restore a classic car here in class. And we sell raffle tickets throughout the year and that raises money to keep our program going. We average with our fundraiser about 50 to $60,000. And in the beginning that went to work with local homeless shelters. And as it progressed and we opened up the shop, it goes in to fund our afterschool program with our computer lab and our food and our other projects. Opened up to a bigger facility so now we can work with more kids and other agencies. Every year, we do our big giveaway at Labor Day weekend at Ventura Nationals Custom Car and Motorcycle Show right there on the beach.
We started from 2014, a 1931 Ford Roadster to 2018, we’re doing a 1964 Buick Riviera. Static drop, about three inches lower. Some nice Astro Supremes. We’re just getting ready to start the mad dash to get this thing going. So our summer’s gonna be packed restoring this car. So please stay with us. Stay up on our website and our social media and follow the growth of this car. Honestly, I don’t even really put much energy into a negative side of lowriding. It doesn’t really, I don’t see that. I see more of the family side. The people that I know, they’re in the garage with their kids working on their cars.
And it’s a family thing. That car is a family member. You know I think at 13, 14, 15, there’s a tipping point. You already know right from wrong and that negativity’s real easy to go on a different path. So we just want to try and show something, show a different avenue. Put tools in your hand. How to hustle. How to have motivation. And how to strive. How to not settle for what you got and push for something harder. And I feel if any of these kids go off in any direction and they go get a job and they can provide for their families, we’ve excelled.