Youth Alliance to host Change Makers

Three community leaders to be honored.

Information provided by Youth Alliance.

Youth Alliance will host its annual Change Makers event on Sept. 21 at Leal Vineyards’ The Barn. According to a recent press release, the event will feature live entertainment from Funky Sound Experience, raffles, auctions, celebration of Change Makers and a special recognition of a nominated community member for their outstanding and exemplary work.

Monica and Raymond Rodriguez will be the recipients of the 2019 Youth Alliance Change Makers award. Individually and as a couple, they have shown amazing dedication to young people as champions, advocates and community leaders for over three decades, the release said.

Raymond is a former San Benito High School District chair and board member. The release said he reshaped disciplinary measures with restorative methods of discipline that follow the California Education Code while positively advocating for students’ rights, spending an endless amount of hours advocating at school boards, and at city and county meetings.

“He was a leading voice in having street closure at SBHS during school hours and insisting on passing a Bond for much needed infrastructure and core facility upgrades,” the press release states.

Raymond was a scout leader, cub master, adult scout trainer and day camp director. He volunteers in youth support organizations and activities including SBHS Challenge Day and the League of United Latin Americans Citizens (LULAC) youth events.

Monica is a seasoned education advocate for students and parents regarding their rights, education code and special education. She has worked with students and families to support them in hearings, meetings, board meetings, etc. According to the release, the Rodriguez home became a popular place after school, with the only rule being that homework needed to be finished first before anything else.

“We cannot count the amount of young people, former mentees, parents and colleagues that stop Monica and Ray to thank them for all they have done,” Youth Alliance Executive Director Diane Ortiz said. “It is a true honor to be able to recognize their hard work and commitment to the community.”

Local youth Aphrodite Ayala will be honored as the recipient of the 2019 Youth Inspiration Award. Ayala is a Gilroy High School senior who has been with Youth Alliance’s after school program and super power summer camp as both a student and youth leader for the last 11 years.

“She has grown with Youth Alliance and has built many valuable connections with staff and students and has volunteered over 900 hours as a mentor and role model to younger students in YA,” the press release states.

Proceeds of the event will benefit Youth Alliance in its effort to raise funds to sustain and expand its Youth Impact Centers, scholarships and highly-needed youth support services in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Benito County. Youth Alliance set a fundraising goal of $250,000 in celebration of its 25 year anniversary, dubbed the #YA25 campaign. It is part of the effort to “bring to life” Youth Impact Centers, which will be equipped with multiple counseling rooms and youth-training spaces complete with computer stations, the release said.

Youth Alliance’s mission is to provide innovative and culturally relevant services that strengthen and enrich youth, families and the community. Its 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.

Tickets are available through Youth Alliance’s website, at its administrative offices at 310 Fourth Street in Hollister, by phone or email.


BenitoLink Staff