neighborhood's menacing feel and liberating its residents to feel
The Shalimar Learning Center was created out of desperation by
neighborhood moms who wanted a refuge for their children after
school. This fall marks the center's 10-year anniversary.
Shalimar has received a host of accolades over the years, spawned
a clone in Arizona and some of its graduates have been the first in
their families to go to college.
"What they did for me is let me dream and think beyond the streets
of Shalimar of Costa Mesa," said Nadia Flores, 23, one of the first
students to attend Shalimar. "They let me see so many different
things that were out there for me."
A TROUBLED PAST
Ten years ago, residents of the neighborhood were constantly in
fear, said Newport-Mesa Unified School Board member Dave Brooks, a
former police captain who patrolled the area.
"It used to be a place where people were afraid to go in their
front yards, there were cars parked all over the streets and in front
of houses, the garages and alleys were unusable," Brooks said. "If
you drove onto the street, there were drug dealers out in the open
and stuff like that."
After a gang shooting in the neighborhood, mothers organized to
take control of their streets. Randy Barth was the head of the
mission committee at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport
Beach at the time. Barth, and other groups interested in the
neighborhood's salvation, met with the moms and listened to their
Barth founded the Shalimar Learning Center as an answer to their
Police redoubled their efforts to eradicate the gangs and
drug-dealing after the Shalimar Learning Center opened in the fall of
1994, Barth said.
"They didn't want any [of the kids] getting shot, so they started
trying again," he said. "They wound up blocking off the streets and
eliminated on-street parking."
The city's code enforcement department also demolished some
dilapidated apartments and created a small park, Barth said.
The physical transformation of Shalimar Street was a comprehensive
effort, including traffic specialists, the Fire Department, Police