Area Leaders Contemplate Local Support of Teen Center

YMCA News:

State Rep. Nick Salazar spoke of the difficulty to secure funding from the state for community programs in these economic times. Family YMCA Executive Director Linda Daly. standing, and Rep. Debbie Rodella listen at right. Courtesy/YMCA

ESPAÑOLA–Business leaders, YMCA board members, and elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, met at the Española YMCA Teen Center Wednesday, April 4, to discuss sustaining the center’s $155,100/year budget.  

“When I was last here, I visited with a group of teens and I asked them what they would be doing if the Center was not here,” Luján said. ‘One said, ‘I would be getting into trouble, selling drugs and stuff like that.’ ”

Linda Daly, Executive Director of The Family YMCA, said that of the Teen Center’s $155,100 budget, the City of Española provides $45,000, United Way of Northern New Mexico $25,000, “and the rest we must raise. Currently the Y is subsidizing 71percent of the budget. We just cannot sustain that level without having a negative impact to the entire Y organization and other programs.”

According to a fact sheet provided by the Y, which operates the Teen Center under a contract with the City, 521 youth were served in 2011, in 250 operating days open, which equals a cost of $620/day. Considering the 521 youth served, it costs $300 per teenager to provide a tutor and skill-building programs each year.

“Think of this in terms of your own family budget,” said Jack Ortega, director of the Rio Arriba Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. “Your neighbor drops off a loaf of bread, another one a jug of milk, that’s wonderful, but you really need basic funds that you can count on to survive.” Addressing the community leaders he asked, “If you have control of a budget, think about what you can do to provide recurring funds of support.”

Ortega compared grants and small donations to ornaments on a tree and emphasized it was the tree that needed support. He said it was a small number of at-risk students with disruptive behaviors that creates a negative ripple throughout the schools and community. It is these at-risk youth, he said, that need ongoing mentoring and support.

Rio Arriba Assistant County Manager David Trujillo said he has witnessed Teen Center Director Ben Sandoval’s activity in the community and understands the importance of the work. Trujillo said it would be in everybody’s best interest to see a line item created to have a steady stream of funding. The county is approaching a new cycle and he would like to see funding directed to the Center, he said.

State Reps. Nick Salazar and Debbie Rodella both recommended that the Y begin having discussions with the state’s legislative finance and education committees in the next few weeks. They recommended that these meetings also be represented by community leaders. Salazar reminded the group that he was able to direct a $20,000 appropriation that was provided in January of 2009.

“But is it much, much harder to do that now as pork and line items are being removed,” he said.

Luján praised the on-the-ground daily intervention work of Sandoval and his staff, and suggested partnering with the Española School District for providing credit type courses, and formal out-of-school programs that could provide funding. 

Sandoval responded that he, Ortega and Superintendent Arthur Blea are currently having those conversations. Luján also pledged staff support in seeking existing federal grants for support.  

The Y began operating the Center in October of 2007 at the request of city leaders. The city has provided funds for its support from $38,000 to $45,000 per year, and in-kind support including the building, utilities and occasional facility support. The city’s direct support approximately covers the cost of one staff person. The center requires at least three staff members and program supplies to operate.

 The Y added responsibilities to an existing staff member to seek support to sustain the center, and is covering all administrative oversight costs in the amount of  $44,427/year that includes a portion of human resources, accounting, and insurance. “But it is the steady stream of $85,000/year to cover the cost of staff to keep the door open where we need a commitment,” Daly said. “We’ve been able to interest numerous funders, including the Daniels Fund.  Our congressional delegation has assisted us in obtaining $125,000 of federal dollars to the center, and the state’s Commission for Community Volunteerism and others have helped, but funders want to know what is the plan for creating a self-sustaining program.”

Former aide to Sen. Pete Domenici and Y Board member Veronica Rodriguez commented that $300 per child is an amazing figure.

“I used to analyze budgets, and for a program serving youth, that’s pretty low,” she said. “The Center’s staff members are pretty thrifty.”

Michael Lopez, representing Sen. Tom Udall’s Office, commented on the slide show of youth involvement at the center. He spoke about the necessity of programs that make a concerted effort to pull kids from at-risk behaviors. “I was one of those kids, our family suffered great tragedies,” he said. “With the help of programs like this, my family and I were able to make a conscious decision to remove ourselves from those choices.”

Mayor Alice Lucero noted that the city will also be lending additional support to the Center that is raised at an Aug. 4 car show.

“That is exactly what is needed,” Daly said. “Direct community support and leaders to participate in advocacy and fund-raising. We need committed individuals to serve on the advisory board, or volunteers to lead a major fundraiser. Right now the Y’s annual campaign fundraising drive is going on. Anyone can make a pledge to directly support the Center, however, please … donations help, but our request is that local entities create a budget line for the Center and its future.”

Collaborations/Networking at the Y’s Española Teen Center

  • City of Española: 2007 contract to operate the Española YMCA Teen Center. The city provided financial support of 38K/yr in 07, 08, & $45K beginning 10/09 to current.
  • U.S. Department of Education Appropriation Act of 2010:$125K for academic and enrichment support for at-risk youth split between 2010/11. 
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory: 2000, donated the Center’s 3,100 sq. ft. building to the city; 2007 provided  22 computers manufactured in 2000 to the Center.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office: Awarded $6,500 for court improvements built in 2010. LANL Foundation provided $15K support in 2007 and in 2012, small grant in support of tutor services.
  • LANS in 2012awarded a $5000 small grant for tutor services, greenhouse and microbiology programs.
  • Rio Arriba County: $10,000 in 2011 for targeted programs in partnership with RAJJAB and DWI Council.
  • Kellogg, Shaw and LATA (Los Alamos Technical Associates): Former support services contractor for LANL; provided facility labor and materials when building donated in 2000; 2007, provided facility repair and $5K donation for grand opening/support.
  • Con Alma Health Foundation: $10K awarded in 2008 for First Aid/CPR /AED training classes; and $4K Center support December 2009.
  • Daniels Fund: 2007, provided grant of $50K for support; 2009, provided $25K.
  • SOC-Los Alamos: $2650 in 2011 and 2012 towards operational support.
  • Los Alamos Medical Center: $1000 in 2011 and 2012 towards operational support.
  • New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism/Children’s Trust Fund-Next Generation Council-CYFD: 2007 provided grant of $25,000; 2008 grant of $12,500; 2010 grant of $10,000.
  • State of New Mexico Rep. Nick Salazar, Rio Arriba County: 2008 appropriation of $20K paid in January 2009. Continuing support will be sought.
  • United Way of Northern New Mexico: Financial award of $10K a year from 2007-2011; $5,000 support for Y Earth Service Corps in Española; $20,000 in 2010 for school based environmental club; continued funding will be sought.
  • SCHUF, USA, Mt. Pleasant, SC: 2009, $500 support.
  • Española Public Schools: Teen Center was provided computer tables for new donated computer systems; partners for Summer Food Service Program.
  • Walmart Foundation and Y-USA: 2011 Grant of $7,500 to provide Summer Food Service Program.
  • 2010 Court Build Collaborators, in-kind donations and/or Services: Espanola Transit Mix; Blue Sky Builders; DTT Sand and Gravel; Pojoaque Valley Fund donation, LANS grant.
  • First Judicial District Court of New Mexico: 2010 providing coordinators and juvenile narcotics prevention resources for a weekly meeting held at the Teen Center.
  • Carl C Anderson, Sr. and Marie Jo Anderson Charitable Foundation and the New Mexico Community Foundation; and Robert E. and Evelyn McKee Foundation in El Paso; and SOC-Los Alamos for 2011 educational computers support.
  • Pojoaque Valley Fund and New Mexico Community Foundation: support of microscopes.
  • Rio Arriba County Community Health Council: Center director is council member.

The Center has collaborations with: the Rio Arriba Youth Service Providers, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Northern New Mexico Community College, El Centro Family Health; Casa de Corazon Behavioral Health; Team Builders Counseling Services; Rio Arriba Teen Pregnancy Coalition; New Mexico Department of Health; La Vision del Valle Coalition-Hands Across Cultures; SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving); Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico (director is resource board member); Rio Arriba County Teen Drug Court; Rio Arriba County DWI Program (director is a council member); Rio Arriba County Juvenile Community Corrections; State of New Mexico Juvenile Probation Services: JUNTOS (Los Alamos-Española youth leadership collaborative); Tewa Women United; CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates); Northern New Mexico Regional Arts Center (director is a board member); Region III Drug Implementation (director is a team committee member); and Rio Arriba County Joint Task Force (director is a council member.)


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