Violence in Salinas has been making headlines across the United States for decades. Per capita, the city often ranks "more violent" than much larger cities. But now, one filmmaker wants to bring the spotlight to the positive side of Salinas with a new documentary not yet released.
The filmmaker, Carolyn Brown, grew up in the Silicon Valley and said she had a negative perception of Salinas because that's all she ever heard. Her documentary follows four young adults in Salinas doing positive things despite some challenges that exist in the area. Brown said she wanted to show the stories that aren't told.
Central Coast News decided to do the same. The East Salinas Family Center is a program that is doing its part to keep kids in a positive environment.
The students are between six and 12 years old and are a part of Life Inc. Kids come to learn and get good grades, but the non-profit goes further.
"It keeps them off the streets and it's a safe environment to come to," said Marlene Vanzant, program director for Life Inc.
Vanzant said because most of the parents of kids in the program don't speak English, older high school students volunteer their time to tutor.
"Our students have role models in these students. Because I can only allow good students to come here and tutor, so their behavior is positive," she said.
Surprised to hear this is happening in Salinas?
The Salinas Project documentary aims to showcase young people who are making something of their lives.
"This film shows a lot of difficult situations, but they are survivors and resilient, and they are succeeding," said filmmaker Carolyn Brown.
Life Inc. isn't featured in the film, but the filmmaker said these are the success stories that need to be heard. Because at Life Inc., kids helping kids look past the violence happens every day after school, in East Salinas.
"If you respect people, they will respect you, and also that we should treat everyone fairly and not unjustly," said Gustavo Martinez, a student at Life, Inc.
The after-school program survives only by grants and donations.
Films crews are done shooting the film and are in the final stages of editing. Central Coast News will be following the latest developments on the documentary.