This week Local Hearts Foundation had the pleasure of meeting 8 year old entrepreneur Aaron. During the pandemic he started a plant selling business where he lives in East LA called Aaron’s garden. This was after his mother Berenice unfortunately lost her two jobs due to the pandemic. He wanted to step up to help pay rent and support his sisters, ages 10 and 2. In just a couple months Aaron’s online store has boomed and on Instagram where sales are made, his followers have reached the thousands! We stopped by to reward him and his family with tablets and a bike for all their incredibly hard work. It is difficult enough for small business owners who are adults, as they are often a “one man show” completing all the product buying, advertising, packaging etc. for the business. We are in complete amazement and admiration of what Aaron has accomplished.
At the same time we felt as though the tablets and bicycle were not quite enough. Upon visiting, our founders HJ and Tito could not help but show concern for the living conditions as it is a small shack that the four family members live in together. The room has just enough space for a mattress that is shared. There is no bathroom, the kitchen is outdoors, and belongings like clothing and what not are kept outside. After speaking more we learned that the pandemic and financial hardships aren't the only reasons why Aaron has felt it necessary to take initiative and step up as man of the house. Unfortunately in 2018 they found themselves in a domestic violence situation and had to flee for their safety. This is also the reason why at the time Berenice's daughter was sent to Mexico to live with her grandmother since the family was in and out of shelters or sleeping in cars. Since then because of Aaron’s garden, enough money was raised for a plane ticket and everyone has been reunited.
Photos by Local Hearts photographer: Alex Brand
Immediately following the visit, Local Hearts Co-Founder HJ Chong began reaching out to all resources available. After a couple days of making phone calls, he got ahold of a friend in El Salvador, who connected him with Ruth from the PATH Foundation. Ruth is setting up housing for the family. We are doing everything we can to be of support during this time and process so that hopefully they feel as though they are not alone. A very special thanks and shout out to Josh and Sean for first connecting us with Aaron. Thank you to Viviana and Junior from 62 Estrella TV for covering this story of resilience. Support a young, small business owner and his family today by making a purchase through his Instagram: @aaronsgarden