Anaheim’s Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership, commonly known as GRIP, targets children in fourth through eighth grades in Anaheim elementary schools who are at risk of being drawn into gangs.
Using a multipronged approach, GRIP guides youngsters on a path of positive decision making.
The police department, teachers, counselors and administrators play a role…and so do the parents.
Many of these parents were celebrated for their service at the Anaheim GRIP Greeter Appreciation event held May 2 at the Anaheim Hills Golf Course.
“Parent Greeters” offer a smile and a positive message to students as they arrive at school in the morning.
For some students coming from troubled homes, the smile might be the first one they see on a given day.
At the appreciation event, greeters were recognized for volunteering at least twice a month.
“I appreciate how you show students how to be great people,” Lolly Domond, Anaheim GRIP project coordinator, told the parents.
Antonia Lizarraga was given special recognition for greeting children at Edison Elementary School for 138 of the 180 days of the school year.
A greeter for seven years, Lizarraga takes her granddaughter to school and then stays to greet the other students.
“I like the fact that I can see that the kids feel good when I greet them and it also makes me feel like I am making them feel safe,” Lizarraga said.
Mayra Pineda is a greeter at three schools.
Her children attend two of those schools, and Pineda volunteers at a third school as an added measure of community service.
“I like being part of something bigger than myself,” Pineda said. “I want to make sure the kids that are part of the community are safe.”
Anaheim PD Deputy Chief Dan Cahill attended the event, along with a handful of school resource officers.
Cahill expressed gratitude to the parent greeters.
“I don’t believe there is any duty that we have that is more important than preparing our children to be successful in life,” Cahill told the parents. “This is nothing that any of us can do alone, so I would like to thank all of you, CSP, the schools and particularly you parents for creating a great atmosphere in our schools so our children can be successful.”
Anaheim GRIP started 10 years ago in two schools and is now implemented in 12, said Kristen Gaborno, program director for GRIP and Juvenile Diversion for Community Services Programs (CSP).
CSP serves children, adults and families living in Orange County, including abused children, struggling families, victims of crime, and those in need of mediation services.
Gaborno describes GRIP as a collaboration between the schools and the police that gives students an opportunity to earn incentives and get involved in after-school activities.
The result: decreased truancy and increased attendance.
In addition to welcoming students, parent greeters provide an extra set of eyes and ears for the police, Gaborno said.
“The police are able to provide the security and some of the impacted measures that a program like this needs,” Gaborno said.