Children and Youth

Youth Alliance honors community change makers

The annual Change Makers Gala will feature a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, live auction, and music as Belen Andrade, Tom Breen and Patricia Mondragon are honored
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The Youth Alliance is hosting the annual "Change Makers" event on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 16 at Gilroy Gardens’ Event Pavilion. The evening will feature a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, live auction, and musical performances by Funky Sound Experience. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Youth Alliance whose mission is provide innovative and culturally relevant services that strengthen and enrich youth, families, and the community.

Youth Alliance is raising funds to continue or expand its youth support services, educational outreach programs, and advocacy efforts that are available at no cost to any child, teen, or parent in need. Youth Alliance services seek to provide a continuum of support that includes after-school, summer, and late-night prevention programs, bilingual counseling and case management, and intervention programs serving at-promise youth in the juvenile justice system. YA is also engaged in systems change efforts like Restorative Justice and working with youth and parents to prevent substance abuse and advance educational equity.

This year’s Change Makers event will be honoring local youth, Belen Andrade, as the recipient of the 2017 Youth Inspiration Award. Andrade has been an active volunteer in YA’s Health Squad Diabetes Prevention Program, Kids at the Park, and community events. He is motivated to help in the community in any way she can and demonstrates this by also volunteering her time as a peer tutor. Her determination and positive acumen demonstrates her commitment to better herself by keeping an impeccable school record and making school a priority. Andrade would like to attend San Diego State University and serves as an inspiration to her peers and family. Dolores Villalon, YA site coordinator, has known Belen for many years. She stated, “Belen is a resilient and tenacious individual willing to go the extra mile to help out her peers and better herself for the future.”

Youth Alliance is proud to honor the Honorable Tom Breen as this year’s 2017 Change Maker. Breen's distinguished career includes practicing law in Santa Clara County until 1975 when he began work for the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. In 1980, he was appointed the judge of the San Benito County Superior Court and served for 20 years, retiring in 2000. Breen has been an instrumental leader and change maker in our community and he continues to give back whenever he can. He has served as a Gavilan College Board Trustee for 16 years, board member of the San Benito Arts Council, Hollister Downtown Association, and served more than 20 years on the Youth Alliance Board of Directors. On any given day, Breen has been seen mowing lawns or pulling weeds at children’s shelters or putting up signs for the weekly farmer’s markets. Breen believes, “It is the little things that mean the most and all of us can do them.” “YA is pleased to have Tom accept the award as the 2017 Change Maker. His years of humble and selfless service to our community are an inspiration to many,” states Diane Ortiz, Executive Director.

Additionally, Youth Alliance will be honoring Patricia Mondragon as the 2017 Change Makers Community Inspiration Award recipient. Mondragon is the principal at South Valley Middle School in Gilroy. Throughout her profession, she has had the opportunity to be a home-based Migrant teacher in the summertime, a teacher coach for my fellow colleagues, and has worked for the Adult Ed. program, where she once was a student. At an early age, she learned to have excellent work ethic and passion for what she wanted to accomplish. Now, she is committed to advocating for students, families, and the community as a whole. “Patricia’s story is an example of resilience and determination that has resulted in her being an advocate for education and for all children.” Fred Tovar, YA Board Member.

Tickets are now on sale through our Youth Alliance website, or can be purchased at the YA Administrative Office at 310 Fourth St. in Hollister, by phone, or email. Please visit for more information. The event is sure to be a night of fun and excitement; we hope you will join us in celebrating our honorees, and supporting our local youth and families!

Youth Alliance:

Youth Alliance (YA) was founded in 1995 as a grassroots movement to provide resources for local youth. Since then, Youth Alliance has grown to be an agency that benefits over 6,500 children and families each year in primarily underserved and under resourced areas of San Benito and South Santa Clara Counties.

YA’s mission is to provide innovative and culturally relevant services that strengthen and enrich youth, families, and the community. Our vision is to empower youth as leaders who contribute to the social and economic betterment of their community. We believe that in order to develop strong youth leaders, we must work to build safe and supportive schools, neighborhoods, and communities with innovative support networks that guide and challenge youth to expand their understanding of themselves, others, and their own capabilities.

Contact Information:

Diane Ortiz, Executive Director —

Eduardo Navarro, Development Coordinator —


310 Fourth St., Suite 101

Hollister, CA 95023


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Youth Alliance (YA) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit located in Hollister, Gilroy & Morgan Hill, CA that strives to create thriving and equitable communities through comprehensive, innovative and culturally relevant services that equip youth and families to become change agents in their own lives and in their community. The agency was founded in 1995 and began as a grassroots effort of committed volunteers and has evolved into an agency that benefits over 6,500 children, youth, and their families each year. YA provides free prevention and intervention programs, including after school enrichment and counseling services to children, youth, and families in need throughout the San Benito and South Santa Clara Counties. Our work aims to lead, connect, and engage communities to effect change and provide opportunities for transformation and growth.