Page 2 October 29, 2020
By Samantha Schmidt
Hi Hawthorne! As of lately, I have been
writing articles passionately which talk about
small businesses in Hawthorne, especially
in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of
Color) Community. I do this to give the owners
the recognition they deserve but I also hope
they feel some sort of accomplishment in
themselves and see their growth. For today’s
article, I sat down with family business owners
Sandra Alfaro and Jose Padilla, the new
owners of what used to be the restaurant “The
Falcon Inn” but now changed to Big Old Fish
Brews and Grill, a Mexican restaurant and
bar in Hawthorne, California. Although they
seem like regular business owners, underneath
they are outstanding residents with community
BIPOC Individuals Helping
Hawthorne’s Community Advocators
As I said before, Sandra Alfaro and Jose
Padilla are one of the few that enjoy in changing
their communities for the better. Believe
it or not, there are a lot of individuals in the
BIPOC communities trying to improve their
cities, whether it’s food insecurity, school
supply giveaways, or even sharing resources
on their social media. As most of them have
said, it’s “by the people, for the people”. Their
goal is to give mutual aid to everyone, despite
their race, sexual orientation, religion. They
attempt to be inclusive as much as they need
to. For example, here in Hawthorne, we have
Brody Rodriguez, co-founder of the Hawthorne
Community Fridge, a mutual aid project to
fight food insecurity. We also have the @
GudneighborsofHawthorne, a social media
page whose goal is to show more representation/
advocacy of BIPOC communities, and
as of right now encouraging others to vote.
Therefore, these underground community
advocators are all around us and we should
all support them.
Introducing to Sandra Alfaro
and Jose Padilla
As I said before, Sandra Alfaro and Jose
Padilla are business owners of Big Old Fish
Brews and Grill. Previously, the restaurant
was named The Falcon Inn, as everyone
in Hawthorne calls it, but 5 years ago, the
couple acquired the location and turned it into
a family business! However, like Brody and
Gudneighbors, they aspired to do more and
turn Hawthorne into a better place. According
to Padilla, he and Sandra were constantly
involved with community outreach through
involvement with high school kids, raising
money for their yearbooks, etc. However, he
wanted to do something real and interact with
more of the community since the Covid-19
outbreak has begun. They started by raising
money for those who have unfortunately
passed away with the virus and provide food
for the families and targeting low-income
families. Even with this, he wanted to do
more. Because he constantly saw kids affiliated
with gangs and doing graffiti, he and his
wife held an event where kids could paint a
mural on the brick wall of their business. He
believes that people can change their lifestyles
into more positive ones and painting these
murals was the first step.
The Sit – Down Interview
Q: What type of community outreach
have you done?
A: (Sandra)As my husband said before, we
have donated our walls (from their business) to
do an event called La Arbolada, a Van Gogh
painting, and our inspiration to hold the event.
Many kids and adults came in to paint and it
was a great effort in bringing the community
together, specifically targeting people who
live in Hawthorne. We did get a lot of people
to come in and even during the pandemic 3
months ago, we were able to make it possible
and it turned out successfully. As of right now,
we are helping a community kitchen. We are
serving 30 meals a day for 30 people who are of
low income and those who are having a rough
Your Neighborhood Therapist
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time during this pandemic. Our friend Dulce
is running the whole program and oversees it.
Because they work within a certain budget, we
help by assisting with the rest of the budget
in and as well as providing the food for the
meals. If by chance, one of the 30 does not
show up, Dulce and the rest of the volunteers
will go around Hawthorne and donate it to the
homeless or to anyone who needs food. We
are also starting the Good Neighbors Kitchen
at our business. We have another location,
however, it shut down due to the pandemic.
We are going to open next month and through
there, we are trying to expand the program
and work hard to gain as much money as we
can so it can be successful. We will be hiring
the elderly, those who are unemployed, and
generally creating jobs for the community.
Q: What inspired you and your husband
to help the community?
A: (Jose) The joy of people when they get
helped and leave.
(Sandra): They come to get their food and
they’re happy because they’re hungry. When
everyone was participating in La Arbolada,
everyone was having a good time. There was
food and many people from other restaurants
nearby donated. Therefore, it’s fun and it brings
happiness to us seeing people smile.
(Jose): You know, the pandemic taught us
something. It’s not just about making money,
it’s about living life. When you live the life
you got, you learn to give and help others.
For me, that makes me feel good that I am
capable to give. Not a lot of people can do
that. The pandemic is what pushed us to make
this change more rapidly. In the back of our
minds, we have always had the intention to
help our community.
(Sandra): We have always had it in our
plans but never had that guidance. Dulce has
been guiding us through this path and pushing
us to pursue it. We have the idea and she is
what makes it happen.
(Jose): As business owners, we are busy
whether it’s our job or our kids, so sometimes
you need people who have time and the
dedication to do these types of jobs. Thus,
Dulce plays a big role.
Q: Explain any challenges you have faced
during your process of the community outreach
and how did it improve you?
A: (Sandra): As of currently with the community
kitchen, we are short on staff because
not a lot of people want to work right now due
to the pandemic. So, we are working with what
we got right now, with whatever we have, and
making the Good Neighbors Kitchen a priority.
(Jose): You know, not enough business
because of the pandemic. So, sometimes we
financially put everything together to make
it happen. We still got to pay rent, pay bills.
(Sandra): It’s funny how we are trying to
help but we need help as well ha-ha.
(Jose): These obstacles have taught us
(Sandra): Patience but also that anything is
possible. If you want to make it happen, you
really got to go out there. Some people are
willing to help you if you ask for it.
Q: Any significant memories? If not, what’s
your favorite thing about community help?
A: (Jose): You know life is too short. We’ve
seen one of our employee’s family member died
because of Covid-19 in a matter of hours. So,
you got to do whatever you got possible in a
time bomb. You never know when you’re going
to die, so you must see the blessings around
you and be grateful. When our employee’s wife
died, it made us realize that we are here today
but we might not be here tomorrow. What you
do today is what’s going to matter tomorrow.
That’s my goal to teach people. Don’t just
wait to receive, give out.
Q: Have you created any potential bonds
or new relationships with community members
along the way?
A: (Sandra): Yes, with Dulce. She was a
customer here at our restaurant. It all started
with the mural over there (a different mural).
She always came in and said, “you know I
have a vision of this place and I want to paint
something there to make your place look prettier.
You got to add art to your place”. And I just
let her paint and trusted her with the outcome.
Once it was finished, it impacted people. I
would get customers and they complement how
the restaurant looks cleaner and looks different
in a good way. She painted and brought
many artists to illustrate the cute flowers, the
butterflies, and all of that. You know, it brings
life to your place. So, when I’ve seen that,
I guessed “well I think we can work out a
relationship with this lady”.
(Jose): Ever since that mural, more people
have come to us interested because we are
doing something good for the city, essentially
opening more doors for us.
(Sandra): Honestly, this has worked out for
us because it has allowed us to know our city
more. We’ve got to know these people when
they come to our fundraisers. We’re business
owners so we don’t have time to walk out into
Hawthorne and meet people. Doing community
supportive things has brought their attention
that we’re trying to do something good for
all our city.
Q: In what way has this changed you
A: (Jose): Well, it’s making us better human
beings. In a way where you see life differently,
you know? You don’t see it like you just got to
work and make money. As I said, it’s making
us see life from a different perspective. We’re
grateful for everything.
(Sandra): Like Saturday, we donated a lot
of vegetables and fruits to families and to see
the happiness in their faces. At the end of the
day, we’re tired but we see that we lifted off a
weight from their shoulders. It made us realize
that we can help but also have a support system,
such as asking help from others in businesses,
the city, a little bit from everyone. So, these
experiences taught me to be much more appreciative
of the little things.
Q: Any last words you want to give?
A: (Sandra): Anything is possible. Anything.
Just by you wanting to, you can make it happen.
(Jose): What I want to pass on to people
Dear Neighborhood Therapist:
I’m struggling with roles as a partner, a parent,
a teacher, a friend and a citizen. I can’t
seem to find the balance. It feels like one week
I get it right, then the next I try too hard in
one and ignore the others and get in trouble
with the people I care about. One day I feel
fine, then the next I feel lost, and worried, like
I’m the only one going through this. Am I?
– It’s Tough Out There, El Segundo
Dear It’s Tough Out There,
You are not at all the only one. We ask
ourselves: when will it end, if at all? Will I
stay healthy? How long do we have to live
this way? Is there permanent damage being
done to my child, my relationship, my family,
my community? We are in the most divisive
election in our lifetimes, with real differences
that feel closer, and more consequential than
in the past.
You’re right: it is tough out there.
Well, at least you get to work from home,
right? Well, sure… but now your office is at
your home, always accessible, always whispering
“come do some work” or “you should be
more productive” or “you have no excuse not
to be at that meeting.”
At least your child can roll out of bed and
straight to class, right? Well, sure… if they like
being at school all the time, because school is
at home. If they like interacting with others
through a screen, and doing physical education
by themselves. It’s even harder if they are in
kindergarten, or sixth grade, or ninth grade,
or otherwise starting a new school and seeing
new faces for the first time.
See Therapist, page 4
See Hawthorne Hotspot, page 8
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