Vanessa chose the one that Wolven had crossed off the list because she said her students had never received a good response from her contacts there: Los Angeles County. She sent a letter to the Chamber of Commerce and waited patiently. Her classmates started getting information packets in the mail from the counties they had chosen – but when hers finally arrived, Vanessa was in tears over the fact that it was only an impersonal, unsigned postcard. As a county worker, Vanessa’s mom offered to collect brochures from different offices so her daughter could give some to her classmates. “But she told me, `No, Mom, that’s like cheating,”‘ Chicaiza said. So they e-mailed Molina’s office for help – and to their surprise, staffers quickly went to work, mailing out dozens of information packets to the class for Vanessa’s project. WHITTIER – Laurel Elementary School fourth-grader Vanessa Chicaiza says a classroom visit Thursday from Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina shows even the smallest task can turn into a big deal with a little bit of effort and persistence. And that’s just the way she likes it, says her mom, Linda Chicaiza. “She likes to start things from scratch and struggle – she likes the challenge,” said Chicaiza, a social worker. “If it’s the easy way out, she doesn’t want to do it.” Vanessa’s latest challenge began a few weeks ago, when teacher Diane Wolven asked her students to choose a California county for a school project. And on Thursday, Molina herself visited Vanessa’s class to meet the youngster and share information about herself, county government and the upcoming Cesar Chavez holiday. “This fit perfectly into (the county’s) service day for Cesar Chavez,” said Molina, who spoke to students about the accomplishments of Chavez, the late labor leader who championed farmworkers’ rights. She also talked about local, state and federal governments, and how she ended up making history as a politician as the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to the California Legislature and the county’s board of supervisors. “I think we all know that in order to be the best, you have to work hard,” Molina told the students. “And right now, you have that tremendous opportunity.” At the end of the hourlong presentation, Molina gave Vanessa a county seal pendant and took group photos with the rest of the class. “This has taught me that even doing one little thing can turn it into a big thing,” said Vanessa, who bought a new pink outfit for her meeting with Molina. “I felt like I made a big difference today,” she added. “I felt special.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!