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QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE VALLEY : Leroy Chase, youth worker

August 19, 1990

"Number one, we see more growth, we see more people moving to the Valley from other parts of the city and other parts of the world. Ventura Boulevard has become like our downtown to a great degree.

"As far as nonprofits go, in the past five years we're seeing more involvement of the general public, seeing the problems at hand that face young people, at least beginning to discuss that we have inadequate resources to deal with the problems. They can pick up the newspaper, they can turn TV on. They can hear about gang problems, they can hear about drug problems, they can hear about problems related to family breakdown.

"That awareness has definitely been slower here. The Valley has been perceived as an area that doesn't need as much financial support, that doesn't have the problems that other areas have. It's been overplayed. The Valley does have needs and those needs need to be addressed. In the past you've seen those resources go to the center city.

"My entire life has been working with young people. The need is greater now--for role models. The need is greater now because there are more problems. It's increasing the workload.

"You definitely have a different child nowadays. Twenty-five years ago, if two young people had a problem, there may have been a fistfight. Today, those same young people may be involved in a gunfight.

"Society's changed. You have guns that are very easy to come by. You have a breakdown in the family structures. You have young people looking for someone as a role model. You have role models that you hate to see.

"In the past, people out here didn't address it. Pacoima was a recreational desert. If you were to take an eraser and erase the Boys and Girls Club, that would still be true today. You have one movie theater in the northeast Valley, very few bowling alleys.

"We need something to address the fact that we have year-round schools and we have kids wandering around with nothing to do, nothing at all. We need more attention to their leisure-time activities. Sitting around in their apartments with nothing to do, you know what they're going to get involved in."

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