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YMCA celebrates collaboration with school district in serving homeless youth

YMCA board members at the Heart of the Community fundraising luncheon earlier this year. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley.

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Alhambra , CA United States

The YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley honored community leaders who helped the organization win a state grant to build a much-needed facility at a luncheon on Tuesday.

The California Department of Education awarded the $1.8 million grant last year so that the YMCA could build a new a dedicated children’s center and provide family locker rooms for members.

“The building grant allows us to move to the next level of what we can provide to our community,” said Valarie Gomez, the YMCA’s CEO, including increasing the organization’s capacity to help homeless and underprivileged youth.

Addressing attendees at the YMCA’s Heart of the Community fundraising luncheon, Gomez told a story about collaborating with the Alhambra Unified School District’s Gateway to Success program to provide lunch and activities for four homeless children. The district was then able to get their mother a hotel voucher to shelter the whole family.

“It’s becoming clear that we must offer weekend and school holiday children’s programs for families who are struggling with hunger and homelessness and parents who will work two or three jobs just to put food on their plates,” Gomez said.

Construction on the building is expected to take two years to complete.

The luncheon celebrated California Assemblymember Ed Chau and Laurel Bear, assistant superintendent at the Alhambra Unified School District, for their help in obtaining the grant.

“What touched me the most was learning that the YMCA has never turned away anyone who is unable to pay for membership, and also its efforts in helping the homeless youth, so we wanted to help out,” Chau said in a video address.

Bear spoke of Alhambra Unified and the YMCA’s collaboration as giving support to children who might otherwise struggle on their own, mentioning the young man responsible for the recent Parkland, Fla. shooting as a cautionary tale.

“The children who have the difficulty meeting the behavioral expectations of our community and our schools, they all need a community coming together, and that’s what this Heart of Community luncheon signifies,” she said.

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