Fundraiser, October 26, to Help Teen Center Serve Youth   


Rio Arriba County (RAC), the YMCA and the City of Española are working together to cosponsor a fundraising event to add additional support to the Teen Center in Española. On Friday, July 12, RAC Public Information Officer, Erika Martinez and YMCA Teen Center Director, Ben Sandoval took to local radio station, KDCE 950AM, to ask that the public join in to help out local youth by attending the October 26 dinner and dance, with a goal to raise around $20,000.


The event will take place at the RAC Rural Events Center in Abiquiu and will feature barbecue style cuisine and live music by the Renegade Mountain Band. Guests can also enjoy tethered balloon rides, lasso roping, “old-tyme” photos and more. Attendees can purchase tickets for either a “Posse” table for $500 for eight guests or purchase a “Rancher’s” table of $1,000 for eight guests, which includes advertising and sponsor acknowledgement. Sponsorship can be written off for tax purposes.    


Sandoval said the money would assist heavily in providing activities to meet the needs for teens to participate in after school and summer activities in 23 categories, including recreational events, cooking classes, field trips, tutoring services and GED preparation. The teen center also provides anti-drug, anti-gang and anti-bullying presentations in-house, as well as in local schools.


The YMCA is currently being funded through RAC, City of Española, Santa Fe County, United Way, campaign donations, foundation support and grants, but recent budget restraints have been a threat to keeping operating costs maintained and new funding avenues must be explored.


According to a YMCA summary of cost benefits, service per child is $241 a year. In 2012, 714 youth were served through the center. Data shows that 29 of those youth at risk of dropping out of school were assisted in reaching their appropriate grade-reading level, 31 achieved math-grade level, 17 obtained their GED, and 32 re-entered the school system after dropping out. According to Sandoval the program is not restricted to at-risk youth; doors are open to all youth from any location, ages 12-19.


“Some of these kids have nowhere to go and we need to assure that they have a place like this to help them become successful in our communities,” said RAC Assistant Manager David Trujillo. “It’s important that our community leaders and the public step up to the plate and help keep these doors open for the kids.”


Event details will continue to be released as they are being finalized. For any questions, the public can call Sandoval at (505) 747-6569 or (505) 500-2045 or Martinez at (505) 753-2992. Center details can be found at http://laymca.org/teencenter.shtml


-Erika L. Martinez, August 2013