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Sharlene Gozalians, HEAC Youth Coordinator

Sharlene Gozalians

HEAC Youth Coordinator

Fortunately for us, Jose Aguilar, the owner of Los Compadres, has children who attend The Accelerated School (TAS) and his store is located right behind the campus. He had a vested interest in the well-being of his children and other community members. He believed in the philosophy of our work and the school’s Health and Wellness Policy. Because of the close proximity between the store and school, TAS staff, teachers, administration, students, and parents noticed and approved of the changes.


Jonathan Contreras

Jonathan Contreras

HEAC Youth Ambassador

Working with HEAC has been a lot of fun. During the summer, we learned so many different things; it didn’t even feel like we were working, except for the filming outside in the 90 degree weather. It was well worth it though. We gained so much for ourselves and the community.



HEAC, Public Matters, Nathan Cheng + Los Compadres

Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC), Public Matters, and Los Compadres (owner, Jose Aguilar-Rodriguez) started their working relationship in early 2007. Aurora Flores, Project Coordinator for HEAC, initially contacted three stores within the immediate area surrounding The Accelerated School. After numerous meetings with the storeowners, we chose to work with Jose and his store. We chose to work with him because of his vested interest in making the community a better place through providing fresh, good quality fruits and vegetables, which addresses the obesity epidemic and related conditions.

Once Jose agreed, the HEAC Youth Ambassadors, Public Matters, and Nathan Cheng started a relationship with Jose and other workers in the store by casually stopping by to say hello, purchasing products from his store or helping him in any way possible. With this, we were able to gain trust with Jose and other community leaders in our work. This trust is key prior to actually starting the makeover project.

Once the project was underway, the relationship grew stronger. Working with Jose has enabled him to increase access to affordable, high quality, healthy foods and beverages. This in turn has helped his store improve sales, increased his customer base, and generated good will in the community.