On Thursday, September 29, the Long Beach Post hosted an event to honor young people from around the city who are doing great things to better their community and beyond. Out of hundreds of nominations from our readers, judges chose 40 winners, representing a range of professions and activism. The Post will be profiling each honoree in the coming days.
Elaine Buckner knows firsthand how important local organizations are for the community’s most disenfranchised members, which is why she now gives back to the groups that once helped her and her family in the toughest of times, eventually leading to her current success.
“The Long Beach community helped raise me when my family had nothing,” the 30-year-old Long Beach native said. “The school district, many organizations and individual people helped my family and I, time and time again.”
Buckner credited Lydia House for providing housing to her mother and younger sisters while she and her brothers were placed at Boys Town—a nonprofit that provides services for at-risk children and families—which helped her mother get her children back and off the street, Buckner said. The Long Beach branch of Ronald McDonald was also filled with caring people, she added.
“There is so much love and aid in Long Beach, I am excited to now be on the other side,” Buckner said.
If one group can be credited for her current success and her selection as a 40 Under 40 winner--whose nominator described her as “motivated”—it’s the Long Beach Unified School District’s summer internship program.
“The program provided much needed credits for school and the business I was placed at hired me on, that same business is the one I own today,” Buckner said.
During her employment at Le Bijou boutique—which she describes as a venue for local artists and jewelers—she was able to mentor three other students from the program and employ a student after the shop’s opening last year.
“Being able to keep a 15-year-old small business open meant so much to me,” she said. “Being part of this year's 40 Under 40 as a local entrepreneur is something I would have never thought possible a few years ago. It is nothing but an honor to be recognized.”