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SOUTHEAST AREA : Youth Club Faces $60,000 Shortfall

October 04, 1992|DUKE HELFAND

The Rio Hondo Boys' & Girls' Club would have to cut back its hours or services, including a program for troubled youths, if it fails to raise an estimated $60,000 by the end of the year.

The Bell Gardens club is facing a lean budget because private donations have dwindled and the United Way, one of its benefactors, has reduced funding to Rio Hondo in the past two years.

Rio Hondo serves about 1,000 youths, ages 7 to 17, from Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood, South Gate and Commerce. If it fails to raise enough funds or secure a commitment for more money by the end of the year, cuts will have to be made during the first six months of 1993, the second half of the club's fiscal year.

Among other services, Rio Hondo offers an after-school meals program for about 150 students each school day, organized sports, and counseling and tutoring for about 50 at-risk youths. Executive Director Gregory Alvarado said he is worried that some youths could begin spending idle time on the streets if the club is forced to scale back its activities.

"The organization provides a place for youth to develop themselves," Alvarado said. "It provides a positive environment for them, and the parents feel comfortable that their kids are here."

The club's board of directors will meet later this month to discuss proposed cuts, but Alvarado and other Rio Hondo officials remain hopeful that they can be avoided.

A $50,000 grant request also is pending before the City Council. Councilwoman Rosa Hernandez, who sits on the club's board of directors, said the council is seeking greater influence over club program and funding matters, which the Rio Hondo board is reluctant to accept.

Meanwhile, club officials hope to tap the energies of parent volunteers, Hernandez said.

"We're going to be depending a lot on them," she said. "They want to hold garage sales, carwashes, dinners. We need to continue operating. We cannot afford to close our doors."

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