Rio Arriba County Becomes Teen Center Partner

Students work on computers after school at the Teen Center in Espanola. Courtesy photo


Española – Rio Arriba County committed $15,000 of support through a contract for teen programming to the Española YMCA Teen Center effective Oct. 1.

“We are very glad to count Rio Arriba County as our partner for youth,” said Y Teen Center Director Ben Sandoval. “Since the center opened in 2007, the county has provided funds for smaller, program-specific objectives. This $15,000 will help support the skill-building classes, the mentoring activities, and the prevention and intervention counseling we perform with the youth on an everyday basis.”

The Center, located at 808 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park Road, opened in October of 2007, under an operating contract and with partial funding from the City of Española. The Center serves youth who reside throughout Rio Arriba and northern Santa Fe counties.

“The investment we’ve made in The Family YMCA program is worth the invaluable service that is given to the youth of our community,” said Rio Arriba County Assistant Manager David Trujillo. “The YMCA staff takes time to give back by assuring that our youth benefit educationally, as well as socially. These are important factors when building, maintaining and protecting our local communities.”

Rio Arriba County Commission Chair Barney Trujillo said, “I am happy to be a part such an investment. My interest is in the people of our great county, and being able to contribute to the youth who will someday keep this rich County sustained and thriving, and it gives me great pride. I appreciate that we have programs like the YMCA to be integral in that process.”

To date this year the center is serving 300 individuals as members, and a total of 640 youth that includes youth guests who drop in occasionally. Attendance averages 50 youth per day, with peak days of 80 youth attending. For the last two years in partnership with Española Public Schools, the center has served as a Summer Food Service Program location and provided meals to an additional 80 youth of all ages Monday through Friday.

Y board members, staff and Teen Center youth appeared before the Rio Arriba Commission in April to request $50,000 in support, detailing the youth served from Rio Arriba County and the services provided. “We are experiencing a large shortfall in funding from foundations, and our goal is to keep the Center, not cut back hours, or cut back on any services or programs. The contract from Rio Arriba County is a big help. The Y will still need to diligently continue to find more funding sources,” said Linda Daly, Y Executive Director.

YMCA board member Sharon Stover commended RAC leadership for recognizing and understanding the value of investing in a successful preventative program like the Española Teen Center. “The RAC has been a strong partner to help youth meet today’s challenges so that they can be better prepared and become valued community members. They know that all youth deserve a safe, healthy, and caring environment in which to live, and the YMCA Teen Center is the best place for teens in the Española Valley.”

The City of Española provides $45,000 in support annually, along with in-kind utilities and maintenance toward the Center’s $155,000 budget. The city also channeled benefit funds from this year’s car show toward the Center. The United Way of Northern New Mexico is providing $30,000 of support. Foundations and donors also contribute to the center.

The Española YMCA Teen Center celebrated its 5-year anniversary in October. The Center is open Monday through Friday from noon until 8 pm and is available for all youth in middle and high school.

About The Española YMCA Teen Center: The Center is administered by The Family YMCA. Examining 2011’s 521 youth served, the cost per child is $298.

To date, we have directly intervened and mentored 33 youth to assist them to graduation who were on the verge of dropping out. In 2011, we were a safe haven for 521 youth throughout the year, and we helped 113 kids improved their grade through tutoring.

Other: A 2012 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by John Heller summarized research on the cost to society for the “rescue of an at-risk” youth.

  • One youth who drops out of high school costs taxpayers between $268,133 and $428,130
  • One youth who becomes a “career” drug abuser deprives society of between $408,268 and $1,070,324
  • One youth who makes a career out of crime instead of a profession, in effect steals between $1,434,455 to $1,655,140 from other, more beneficial uses (source: The Costs and Benefits of After School Programs.”

Heller’s article quoted University of Illinois at Chicago professor of community health researcher David DuBois, as saying that at quality after school programs, “The staff members play a pivotal role by helping kids feel encouraged and by giving them practical skills to cope with life in general.”

When asked about adults in the lives, DuBois says, the kids rank program staff above teachers: “In after-school settings where they can go every day, sometimes over many years, there’s really potential for deep relationships and connection to the setting itself.”







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