Daralyn “Dede” McCall started coming to Wellspring when she was in elementary school – her aunt and her cousins discovered the center by chance. They wandered into the center after their preschool let out while syrupy pancakes were being served.
“It became this place with pancakes and then we moved right around the corner and my mom started coming here,” Dede said. “We would get the donuts that they had, the coffee, the bus tickets, the diapers and pads.”
Now, Dede is a junior at UC Merced. She is home in Oak Park for the summer working as a recreation coordinator for the Oak Park Community Center.
“I don’t know if I would be here if it wasn’t for Wellspring, my high school and the people around me,” she said.
She is majoring in sociology with a minor in management. Active in the Black Student Union, Afro-Terrace, a student group focused on increasing the retention rate of African American students at UC Merced, she is also a mentor to impoverished youth in Merced – a town that she says that lacks the community centers that Oak Park is so rich in.
She teaches elementary, middle school and high school students leadership skills and brought them to UC Merced to give them a taste of their future.
Dede is also a residency advisor.
“I was one last year,” she said. “It was an amazing experience. It is such a different job. With most jobs, you clock out for the day and you go to bed. I had 38 residents and they were first years. It was amazing. I grew friendships with them.”
What does Wellspring mean to you?
“To me, it is a really nice family reunion every morning,” she said. “You just get a cup of coffee and some breakfast. My mom comes here every morning – it is in her daily routine. I know that if I come, I know that everybody will surround me and ask me, ‘how school is going’ or tell me, ‘you got so big.”
After UC Merced, Dede plans to get her masters in social work or counseling. She aims to one day get her PhD.