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YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley Honors Supporters at Annual Heart of the Community Luncheon

Honorees, Y board members and representatives of political leaders gather at end of luncheon. Photo by Alan Miyatake for Toyo Miyatake Studio


Alhambra , CA

The  gloomy skies outside the Lakeview Room at Alhambra’s Almansor Court did nothing to dim the enthusiasm of the 275 supporters of the YMCA of the West San Gabriel Valley who gathered Tuesday to celebrate the spirit of giving at the Y’s Annual Heart of the Community Awards and Fundraising Lunch.

After Alhambra Police Chief Timothy Vu led the pledge of allegiance and J. Craig Statton, president and CEO of the Atherton Baptist Homes, offered the invocation, Vu asked for a moment of silence in the memory of Alhambra police officer Emmanuiel Araneta who died suddenly of natural causes on April 1.

Former mayor Mark Paulson served as MC welcoming the guests before introducing YMCA CEO Valarie Gomez. She thanked all for attending and participating in the fundraiser activities which included a silent auction with items that included travel adventures including a trip to New York City for a Billy Joel concert.

Raffle tickets were sold with prizes that  included a beach cruiser bicycle, a 32” Vizio Smart TV and gift cards to local restaurants. The raffle prizes were donated by local businesses and individuals.

A member of the Alhambra Firefighters Association presented Gomez with a check on behalf of the association to support the Y’s programs. A representative of ProCon Development presented a check to Gomez as well. Money raised at the luncheon supports many Y programs including summer day camp, weekly field trips, the basketball league, after school programs and swim lessons.

 Local leaders in attendance included Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler, council member David Mejia, Robert L. Gin, the president of the Alhambra Unified School District board of education, and Denise Jaramillo, the AUSD superintendent. Three former Alhambra mayors Mary Louise Bunker, Stephen Sham and Barbara Messina, who is also the president of the YMCA, were also introduced.

Honorees at this year’s event, the 11th year the luncheon has taken place, included the Alhambra Educational Foundation, the Southern California Edison Foundation, Nicole Tilley of the William H. Tilley Foundation and Reyna Del Haro, director of public affairs and brand communication, at the Kaiser Permanente Foundation.

All of the honorees have offered considerable support to the Y over the years. The Kaiser Permanente Foundation has funded the Y’s SOS (Save Our Students) program, which, over the last five years, has provided swimming lessons and water safety classes twice a week for 280 students. The Southern California Edison Foundation underwrites memberships for students in the AUSD LIFT (Life Independence for Transition) program for 18-22 year olds with disabilities.

The William H. Tilley Foundation and Alhambra Educational Foundation provide funding for Alhambra’s Gateway to Success children to attend the Y’s residential Camp Ta Ta Ponchon in San Bernardino County.

In her comments to the luncheon audience,  Messina also thanked Andrew Cherng and the Panda Restaurant Group’s  foundation for its generous donation of $150,000 to defray the cost of remodeling the historic camp. AEF donated a similar amount to revitalize Camp Ta Ta Ponchon, which is to open this month. It will eventually be used year round and, part of the time, offer a STEM curriculum to ASUD students.

At the conclusion of the luncheon,  Christian Daly, an assistant field deputy to LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger presented  commendations to the honorees on behalf of Barger and the County Supervisors for their support of the Y.  Sandra Armenta Lopez, the mayor pro tem of Rosemead and a district representative of State Senator Susan Rubio was also in attendance.  Henry Lo attended the luncheon representing assembly member Ed Chau’s office. 


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