La Colonia de Eden Gardens continues community service

The nonprofit has featured Zumba in its programs.

For about 10 years, the Solana Beach nonprofit La Colonia de Eden Gardens has held events, programs and other outreach efforts to promote its mission “to empower our youth to make positive choices and to improve the availability of resources for all residents.”

“You get families involved,” said Manny Aguilar, a Chicago native who started the nonprofit with his wife, Mary Ann, who is from Solana Beach. “It’s a different concept and it’s beautiful to see the families growing from the opportunity to learn together about these things, so they have something in common to talk about at home, and there’s a service component to it.”

Mary Ann and Manny Aguilar
Mary Ann and Manny Aguilar

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, La Colonia de Eden Gardens had to shift from its usual in-person programming. It has also helped families that have been more prone to food insecurity and other economic hardships due to job loss and other consequences from the pandemic.

“During the pandemic we went virtual for our after-school program,” Aguilar said. “We had to do things differently.”

One of the nonprofit’s key programs is its La Clase Mágica, which is a free after-school tutoring program.

Aguilar also mentioned a new virtual program called the Parent Access for Student Success, a collaboration with other organizations including Whittier College. The program features health seminars, meditation and other offerings for children and families.

“When families are working together, they’re stronger,” Aguilar said. “That’s been our focus and that’s really important for us to help create that culture because a lot of times other programs, they’re good programs, are just focusing on the kids. But it’s an ecosystem of family first, then school, then you’ve got these after-school programs that round it all together.”

He added that “our member families are volunteering and serving to do that work, which is beautiful to see.”

In another effort to engage local youth in a pandemic-friendly way last summer, La Colonia de Eden Gardens collected works of art on 12-by-16-inch squares of cardboard and canvas completed by K to 12 students, with help from their parents, siblings and other family members. The theme was family strength. A similar event is in the works.

Aguilar said he encourages the community to continue giving their support through time spent volunteering and donating.

“We can’t do this without the community helping each other,” he said.

For more information, visit or @LCEGINC on Facebook.