Eduardo “Lalo” Marquez bounced around from job to job until, one late evening in October while working as a volunteer at a local Boys & Girls Club, he connected with his calling while constructing a haunted house for the local children.

“I had a friend who told me about a job opening as an art director at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica,” Marquez said. “I jumped at the opportunity with no formal program in mind.”

After securing the job, Marquez developed the art program from scratch by partially using the instincts developed on the streets of Watts, where he says he was a former tag artist.

He was also able to implement his educational acumen, cultivated while taking classes at Cerritos College.

Marquez created a blended program that attracted many at-risk children and teens to his area.

Now a four-year veteran in the Boys & Girls Club movement, Marquez has brought his motivational and artistic skills to the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, where children and teens under his tutelage learn how to make art fun and therapeutic.

“I seem to attract kids with a lot of personal issues,” Marquez said. “They see me as someone who they can relate to and I help them nurture their talents.”

Marquez has been known to take delinquent kids who have had multiple brushes with the law and mold them into award-winning artists.

His commitment to mentoring often extends beyond the normal club hours and trickles into everyday life.

He is often found on the phone or in the homes of his protÈgÈs mitigating problems at home and at school.

“Art can lead these kids to a lot of different roads and give them a lot of different options in life,” Marquez said. “Look at what it has done for me.”

For this former cook, home remodeler and married father of two boys, art has been the redeemer of many lives, including his own.

For more information on how people can support the Boys & Girls Club of Venice art program, visit the Web site at www.bgcv.org

[This is the first in a series of articles from the Boys & Girls Club of Venice about its staff and programs, written by club executive director Erikk O. Aldridge.]

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