Book Driving for the Incarcerated Youth

The Homegirl and Homeboy Scholars of SMC took over the Santa Monica College library platform on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 19, looking to engage with students to help spread hope and encouragement to a group of young, incarcerated, teenage women.

As the club collected books, shared inspirational poems and wrote meaningful messages for delivery, students shared their stories and feelings with the goal of showing support and to let the girls know that there are people who care.

The Homegirl and Homeboy Scholars of SMC is a group dedicated to providing an environment that spurs personal and academic growth for previously incarcerated and first-generation immigrant students.

Vice President of the club Salma Morales, 19, said the purpose of today's event was to ”Inspire other people to seek education especially people that are incarcerated cause here [SMC], everyone is getting an education and some people take it for granted.”

As the writing table filled with students who wrote words of encouragement and hope inside the donated books, Maria Padilla-Vadillo, 21, a second year student at SMC spoke about the message she left in "The House On Mango Street,” written by Sandra Cisneros, a book she purchased herself.

“When I was younger, that book made me realize a lot of stuff in my life... and to keep on going with everything that you do,” Padilla-Vadillo said.

She also hopes students take away "the humanitarian side," of the event and to see each other as humans on an everyday basis for people who are incarcerated and also have a family and friends.

Though there were some unexpected challenges with the speaker and outlet system in regards to the planned talent show, that did not stop SMC students and club members of Homegirls and Homeboys to take a moment and share their personal thoughts and feelings regarding immigration and incarceration.

“The Performances were basically Spoken word or poetry and open mic kind of thing where people could come up and talk about incarceration, do a poem or a spoken work about incarceration,” President of The Homegirls and Homeboy Scholars of SMC, Estephanie Guardado said. 

For those unable to donate books at the original event, Alex Aldana, Director of Recruitment and Outreach, said that book donations are open to the public for the remainder of this week and the following week at 715 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. Students can come from Monday-Friday from 11am to 7pm. For more information go to

SMC student Benito Hernandez, 21, is a member of the club and appreciates the event since he was in a similar position to the girls at one time.

"If I would of had the chance, the opportunity as a juvenile to be sent love like this with what we're doing, then that would have probably stopped my whole outcome. So, we're trying to target the youth so they can stop early and they won't mess up later in life,” Hernandez said.