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West Valley Focus

CANOGA PARK : Sports Project Fails to Satisfy Group's Critics

August 21, 1993|JILL LEOVY

A youth basketball program has been started at the Guadalupe Community Center in Canoga Park, a Catholic Charities-owned multipurpose center that has been criticized by neighborhood parents for not providing enough youth activities.

But a spokesman for the Parents of Canoga Park, Joseph Carlin--also an outreach worker for the San Fernando Valley Partnership--said the group is still dissatisfied with Catholic Charities and wants more of a role in determining what goes on at the center.

"I don't see it as one of those viable projects that is addressing the issues in the community," he said, adding that he questioned whether Catholic Charities can sustain the effort.

Jesse Hernandez, a part-time worker at the center and volunteer coach for the basketball program, said the teams play three times a week on the blacktop at the center at 21600 Hart St.

Greg Stuart, associate director of Catholic Youth Services, the agency within Catholic Charities which set up the basketball program, said the idea for the project came from discussions on how to divert youth from gangs following the spring, 1992, Los Angeles riots.

"Our goal is to get kids off the street and get them into productive activities," Stuart said.

Stuart said Catholic Youth Services aims to get sports programs started at each of Catholic Charities' three community centers in the city. The other two are in South-Central and East Los Angeles. However, he said, Catholic Charities is hampered in these efforts by budget cuts. The agency lost 7% of its budget this year because of a decrease in United Way funds, charity officials have said.

Stuart said the program needs more volunteers to keep it going. Carlin acknowledged that members of Parents of Canoga Park have not volunteered to coach, saying the group's involvement efforts are instead focused on "building a community network machine."

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