Today as I went about my daily work, it hit me like a ton of bricks: the hope and promise of a community (in this case a Tri-Community) is staring me right in the face and I think I like it!
Perhaps it’s the start of another new year. There is something invigorating about having a clean slate and a chance to do, have and be better this year than in the past.
I suddenly realized that here we are doing what we set out to do: providing service to all ages. While some are saying San Manuel and the rest of the Tri-Community is dying a slow death, I believe we are having a rebirth!
Specifically, I’m speaking about what I saw going on today and all this week at the youth center that Adelante Juntos Coalition (AJC) opened in June. The Early Head Start and pre-Kindergarten (ages 3 to 5) children from Mammoth and their moms and teachers were enjoying the center and all of its offerings as they worked on their socialization skills.
Earlier in the morning the adult exercise group Muevete, made up of men and women of all ages including some 70-year-olds, were moving and grooving to their exercise tunes and counting off their reps. How great is that?
When school lets out later today teens and adolescents will begin streaming in to enjoy a few hours of safe recreation, music they love and fellowship (aka “chillin’”) with their peers.
A bully-free zone where kids quickly learn that cooperation and respect for each other is going to get them the same in return. Where friendly competition on one of the pool tables or air hockey, ping-pong, foosball, and video games is helping kids learn the benefit and value in negotiating, cooperating and sportsmanship.
El Centro Youth Center (ECYC) even offers homework help and has computers with internet access for study, research or just plain fun like Facebook, Pinterest, Myspace and other social media.
There are board games and lots of room for dancing and hacky sack as well as comfy couches and seats for when all a kid wants is a friend to hang out with.
Sometimes the laughter I overhear coming from the center makes me giggle out loud. It also reminds me that the promise of a peaceful, safe and healthy community with resources to meet our needs is indeed achievable, thanks to the moral and financial support of partners like former Pinal County Attorney James Walsh, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Cenpatico and the Arizona Women’s Partnership.
The collaboration between Mammoth/San Manuel Unified School District (MSMUSD) and AJC that made the youth center project happen has also created great potential for many more services to be centralized and easily accessible to all.
The campus of this former elementary school has the potential of being able to offer the enrichment classes and workshops that our public schools can no longer provide like music and dance programs. They offer a mariachi group, a dance troupe, and opportunities to learn to play guitar, drums and keyboard to maybe even form a band. Yes, it is possible, right here in our towns when we combine our resources and share our talents.
Imagine yourself being able to learn to use a computer to apply for jobs, write a resume and cover letter, shop, pay bills or find resources online. You can keep tabs on your banking accounts and manage your benefits and insurance business online, or use it just for your own personal enjoyment and satisfaction. All this is also a hope of AJC’s center of excellence when we can secure funding for the technology literacy program.
For now knowing that people from ages three to 70 are using this community resource is tremendously rewarding to our Coalition and we promise to continue working on behalf of the youth and families of the Tri-Community. Thanks for your continued support. Please visit us anytime.
/s/ Betty Chavez
Director, Adelante Juntos Coalition