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My LES – Amarilis Perez

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This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side.  If you would like to participate in “My LES”, please email us here.

Amarilis Perez - photo by Traven Rice

What do you do?

I work at the Educational Alliance as the Director of the Edgies Teen Center. I oversee our Teen Center with over 400 youth, ages 13-18, offering a variety of activities from arts, health and wellness, discussion groups, mentoring and academic programs.

How long have you worked on the LES?

I have worked on the Lower East Side for the past three and a half years.

Favorite block in the hood?

I like East Broadway – it’s a block where you can experience the cultural diversity of the Lower East Side all around you. You can get delicious snack at a kosher bakery, a Chinese bakery, a Dominican bakery and much more.

Favorite coffee in the hood?

I’m not a really a coffee drinker, but if I must have some caffeine…I would go to Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery and get a cupcake and a French Vanilla coffee.

What is your favorite neighborhood activity to do with the kids?

We like taking the teens to the New Museum, there are always interesting and cool exhibits. This past summer we saw an exhibit about the Black Panthers and another exhibit about Apartheid in Africa. The museum provides an excellent educational outlet on the Lower East Side.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

A great restaurant in the neighborhood is Yuca Bar on 7th street and Avenue A.  The food is delicious and you must try the yuca fries!

Favorite LES memory?

My favorite LES memory is the Scavenger Hunt we did with the teens. During Spirit week, we created 5 teams that needed to figure out clues and find different places in the neighborhood. The teens had a lot of fun discovering the neighborhood and playing the game.

What do you like best about working on the LES?

There is so much cultural wealth in the neighborhood. Some of our clients and their families have been here for generations and some are new to this country. The neighborhood exhibits a strong sense of community with ties to their roots.

What do you like best about your job?

Working with teens is a huge responsibility, we have the chance to impact them at a crossroads in their life. High school is a moment succumbed by intense emotions, dilemmas and challenges. Many teens make decisions with us that affect the rest of their life. Decisions such as going on to college, dropping out of school, practicing abstinence and choosing positive friends. My team and I are the support system and second family for our teens during this crucial stage in their life.

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