What if you have two children in need of an after school program, and you can only afford for one to attend? What if your child loves basketball, but the Youth Center only has one hoop and a lopsided ball for its After School Program? Thanks to generous donations from Run Seal Beach, the Los Alamitos Youth Center has scholarship and equipment funds to meet those needs.
For 2016, the Run Seal Beach Organizing Committee awarded $2,750 in scholarship money for the Youth Center’s Summer Camp Program, and an additional $3,400 for sports equipment. “Donations like this are the lifeblood of our organization,” says Youth Center Executive Director Lina Lumme. “Our scholarship fund enables families who are struggling financially to enroll their children in a safe and socially stimulating program.”
Summer Camp scholarship recipient Janet agrees. An older grandmother supporting her grandson James with her Social Security, she found it difficult to keep him busy and out of trouble. “It gave me great joy to see my grandson happy and enjoying his summer. This would not be possible if I was not given a scholarship.”
As for James, he loved playing catch and had become a better catcher by the end of summer. He blossomed into a natural leader, helping the younger campers learn to play catch and other games. Every day, he’d come home excitedly saying, “I had so much fun, Grandma!”
Lumme says the Youth Center assists a wide range of families, including single parents or grandparents, families who have just lost a loved one, military families, and others who just need a little help keeping their children safe and engaged. Scholarship applicants go through a rigorous application process to assure that all the grant criteria are met. “We owe it to our supporters, as well as the families, to make sure we use these very valuable gifts wisely.”
The Youth Center strives to keep kids active, developing team-building and other physical skills with a wide range of sports equipment. It’s not an easy task. “With over 120 kids playing sports and games five days a week, equipment wears out quickly,” says Lumme.
When one of the two basketball hoops could no longer be repaired, it changed the kinds of activities available to the children. Instead of being able to play actual basketball games to develop teamwork and skills, the staff had to create one-on-one skill games until Run Seal Beach’s generous donation allowed them to replace the broken hoop and get new basketballs.
“The new basketball hoop allows me to come to the Youth Center and play game after game!” enthuses Adam Abarca, 13. Tommy Graham, 13, agrees. “The new basketball hoop allows me to express myself by being free to play.” In addition to replacing the broken hoop, the Youth Center was able to add a pool table and a ping pong table to the recreation facilities.
Luke Evans, 13, exclaims, “Ping Pong helps my eye-hand coordination!” while his competitor Jake Dale, 13, adds, “Ping Pong gives me something to look forward to after a long day at school.” Supervisor Jay Martz says, “Now we can have tournaments, and the kids don’t have to wait as long for their turns.”
Both Run Seal Beach and the Youth Center are nonprofit organizations who rely on volunteers and corporate donations. Sponsoring runs for 41 years, Run Seal Beach became a chartered non-profit in 1999, and remains the largest non-profit local benefactor in the greater Seal Beach community, impacting tens of thousands of residents each year.
Founded in 1952, the Youth Center serves children ages 5–17 from Los Alamitos, Rossmoor and Seal Beach with a wide range of programs that include the After School program, Music Program, Summer Camp and more. Often, Youth Center families and volunteers assist Run Seal Beach with its annual event, which is entirely volunteer-driven. Says Lina Lumme, “We understand how strong our communities grow when helping hands work together.”