* Jesus Perez, a Los Angeles visual artist, says putting together Artes de Mexico, a cultural festival of local and international talent, is like creating a painting. "I have to make sure each element is in harmony," said Perez, who has taken over as the festival's executive director. Artes de Mexico will include visual arts, dance, theater and film programs that will be put on next fall in conjunction with "Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries," the giant exhibition scheduled for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Perez said 65 programs have been approved so far. Activities will feature contemporary examples to complement the museum show, which includes works to 1950.

* Although she didn't realize it then, Rosa Castillo began her social work career as a child, when she would translate for neighbors who needed help with their utility bills, insurance forms and making doctors appointments. Now as the program supervisor for Big Sisters of Los Angeles, which pairs young girls who need guidance with female adult role models, Castillo says she is helping people every day. "It's not just getting them a job or getting them in school, but people do have real painful experiences that they need help with," said Castillo, a UCLA graduate who grew up in Hawaiian Gardens. Castillo and her group, in conjunction with its Latina Advisory Council, are focusing on an important goal: finding more Big Sisters vounteers.

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