Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard Congratulated the Salesian Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles
Dec 17, 2008 -
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) congratulated the Salesian Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles on its successful efforts to provide opportunities for area youth and welcomed the new director of the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community, Juan Carlos Aviles, at the club’s holiday celebration in Boyle Heights.
Since 1966, the club has served as a fun and safe environment for young people by offering a wide-variety of activities, including sports, arts and crafts, educational programs, individual and group guidance sessions, and career information. The club also works with other agencies to educate young people about teen pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse. Juan Guerra, Executive Director, heads a full time, part-time and volunteer staff who serve more than two thousand boys and girls who join the club annually. The Salesian Boys & Girls Club, located at 3218 Wabash Ave in Boyle Heights, and the Salesian Family Youth Center, at 2228 E. 4th Street in Boyle Heights, together form the Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles.
The Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles is leading a coalition of community organizations under the auspices of the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community to reduce substance abuse among youth in Boyle Heights. Established in September 2007, the coalition works to empower community members to encourage and support self-sustaining prevention programs to keep youth in positive and healthy life styles.
At the event, the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community officials thanked the congresswoman for supporting its successful efforts to secure a Drug Free Community Coalition federal grant of $625,000 over five years. The congresswoman also secured federal funds to assist the Salesian Boys and Girls Club’s Academic Center for Excellence increase the number of youth it helps to attend college.
During the congresswoman’s remarks, she extended a combined hello and farewell to the coalition’s new director, Juan Carlos Aviles, who previously served as the congresswoman’s project manager in her Downtown district office. In the congresswoman’s office, Mr. Aviles’ responsibilities included, but were not limited to, assisting community-based organizations to access grants and other funding sources and helping students identify college financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
Pictured in the first group photo from left to right: Juan Guerra (Executive Director, Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles); Sylvia Guillen (Director of Marketing for Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles); Marisol De La Rocha (Healthy Star Coordinator, Roosevelt High School); Denis Quiñonez (Director of Government Relations for Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles); Brenda Morton (Principal, Ramona High School); Richard Hugues (Board President, Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles); Juan Carlos Aviles ( new Director for the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community); Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34); Frank Villalobos (Barrio Planners); and Ana Valdez (High School Programs Coordinator, Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles).
Pictured in the second photo from left to right: Board President of Salesian Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles, Richard Hugues; Frank Villalobos (Barrio Planners); Noelia Conalez; and Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (CA-34), who is passing out calendars to the party’s attendees.
The following is the full text of the congresswoman’s remarks at the Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles holiday party:
“Good evening. It is a pleasure to be here at the Salesian Boys and Girls Club to celebrate this holiday season together.
I would like to thank Richard Hugues, Juan Guerra, and Denis Quiñonez, as well as all the members of the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community for your warm welcome.
In particular, I would like to also congratulate the Coalition on appointing your new director, Juan Carlos Aviles. It is admittedly with some sadness to see Juan Carlos assume this position, as he has been an invaluable member to my team. However, it is also with great joy to see him take on this responsibility, as I am confident that he and this talented team will enjoy marked success in the ongoing movement to improve the health and safety of our community.
The Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community is the product of motivated citizens, who have come together from different backgrounds around the common cause to achieve a better environment for our youth. I look forward to collaborating with you to help our children fulfill their greatest potential.
I first became aware of the Drug Free Communities Coalitions through my work on the Sober Truth On Preventing Underage Drinking Act, also known as the STOP Act, which was signed into law in 2006. In addition to calling for a national media campaign targeted at parents, as well as underage drinking monitoring and research, the STOP Act provides support to community-based prevention efforts.
While writing the bill, I learned about drug free community coalitions, managed by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. I was impressed by the model’s capacity to effectively mobilize the community and bring about meaningful change.
In addition, the Coalition holds strong potential for long term viability by creating a foundation of productive relationships between key society stakeholders, which can be harnessed toward other vital health interventions in the future.
For this reason, I wanted a Drug Free Communities Coalition in my district and was very pleased to support the Boyle Heights Coalition’s successful effort to become a grantee this past August.
I also look forward to having the Coalition apply for federal grant funds through the STOP Act in order to further grow a unified campaign for our children against underage drinking here at home.
Together, we still have a long road to tread. In the United States during any given month, nearly 11 million of our youth between the ages of 12 and 20 drink alcohol. That means that by the end of today, more than five thousand of our nation's youth under the age of 16, will have taken their first drink. Furthermore, a 2000 scientific study found that youth who drink alcohol could forget as much as 10 percent of what they learn as compared to those who do not drink.
When you consider the full extent of the dangers associated with drinking before the age of 21 such as car accidents, violent crime and risky sexual activity, the massive extent of this public health crisis and its tragic consequences become clear. Despite these startling facts, studies have found that most parents are unaware of the prevalence of underage drinking or the risk it poses to their children.
As is the case for many of us who are involved with the Coalition, working against underage drinking and drug abuse is an issue that has been part of our lives for a long-time, either professionally or personally. Prior to being elected to public office, I worked for a nonprofit agency which focused on alcohol abuse. There, I witnessed firsthand the many devastating consequences of irresponsible drinking. That experience made me realize that, as a nation, we must no longer be complacent about underage drinking and its alarming consequences.
This is why I am so grateful to the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community for taking on the challenge to combat the statistics and lead the struggle to achieve drug and alcohol free conditions for our youth.
As both a public servant and a member of this community, I commend your tireless commitment to improving our kids’ safety—at once taking a stand against abuse and dropping out of school, and a unified step towards health and opportunity. Thank you and I look forward to continuing our work together.”
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