Maria is the proud mother of two daughters, Carina and Ariel. Although Carina is too young to participate in the programs at the Cook Arts Center, her sister Ariel is quite involved. In fact, after living in this neighborhood for several years, Maria has reached out to the staff at the Cook Arts Center to express her high satisfaction level with the programs and services that they provide.
“Ariel has been through a lot in her little lifetime, and the Cook Arts Center makes her feel like she is doing something. The classes make her feel special and worthy. Those are important things to know as a child,” Maria reflected. “When I was young I felt like what I did didn’t matter, but Ariel looks forward to every day here. It pushes her to do better in everything she does.”
Maria cannot say enough good things about the staff at the Arts Center. “Everyone here is the best. I have seen them work with kids and it's nice to see people who care. When I was growing up people did not care about me. Back then it seemed like nobody cared. But here, they reach out to the kids, which makes me trust them. They are here for us.”
Ariel, a 7-year-old who attends Bursley Elementary School in Jenison Michigan, falls in the 85th percentile in school. Although she succeeds academically, her true passion lies in the arts including singing, acting, and dancing. At the Cook Arts Center, she attends piano, animal drawing, hip hop, and pottery classes. She told her mom, “I don’t want to be a trash picker or someone who works at a desk all day long. Instead, I want to be a dancer and a performer for my career.” Ariel’s favorite celebrity is Jessie J.
Maria, who is originally from Texas, moved around a lot with her parents, who were migrant farm workers. She attended a variety of Grand Rapids Public Schools including Franklin, Cesar Chavez, and Burton. She also attended GRCC but then became pregnant with her second daughter, Carina. Although Maria needed to take time off to focus on raising her infant, she plans to go back to college.
For fun, the family enjoys attending Grand Rapids First Church, going to the movies, and attending ArtPrize. Their favorite activity when it’s warm is going to Grand Haven beach to walk on the pier. Maria plans to enroll Ariel in the Cook Library Center programs this summer and looks forward to continuing her relationship with the staff at the Cook Arts Center.