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Community Digest

Long Beach : Coalition Seeks Volunteers for Projects to Help Youth

March 18, 1993

Kayte Deioma is not picky. She's looking for "anybody who's willing to do anything." Or donate anything. Or lend a facility. Or even just contribute new suggestions.

Deioma's group, a coalition of youth-service agencies called Yes, plans to send out about 3,000 letters March 29 to businesses, churches, neighborhood associations and individuals asking for help--in any form--for young people in the city.

Yes members then plan to match volunteers and donations with people and places where they are needed.

Meanwhile, more than 200 people have volunteered to tutor students or offer other services in the wake of a spate of gang violence in the city in December, according to Dick Van der Laan, a spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District.

The new volunteers took district officials somewhat by surprise. Administrators have placed 119 of them, but most of the remaining volunteers said they could only help out after school hours. Placing those people is more difficult because after-school activities, such as homework centers or sports, have to be supervised by school staff, who often are not available after hours, Van der Laan said.

Increasingly, groups that deal with young people are turning to the private sector for help, frustrated that the city hasn't dealt with its burgeoning gang population--estimated at about 10,000 members.

"From the lower level, we're making the effort the city is not making," said Deioma, vice chairwoman of Yes and an official with United Cambodian Community, a Long Beach-based agency providing services to refugees.

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