Monday, May 12, 2008

yStrive seeks funding for annual youth retreat


With its annual youth retreat fast approaching, a local gang intervention group is in desperate need of community donations to keep the event alive.
Known as yStrive, the program is in its seventh year and is completely managed by local youth. Its three-day retreat, dubbed “Unity in our Community,” brings together local teens from different neighborhoods for competitions, guest speakers and workshops at an undisclosed location in the Santa Barbara area.
However, due to a lack of funds, organizers said the event is in jeopardy of being cancelled.

Judie Fuentes, a 20-year-old staff member who has been involved with the organization for the past three years, said the retreat offers an opportunity for teens from different sides of town to mix.
“At first, it’s really tense because everyone is from a different side,” she said.
After the participants are divided into groups, separating friends and those from the same neighborhoods, they start to work together as they compete against other groups.
No problems have ever emerged, Fuentes said, and by the end they are exchanging phone numbers.
This year’s retreat features visits from Santa Barbara police, who will participate in a role reversal demonstration, and officials from the Santa Barbara Teen Legal Clinic. Organizers from other local youth organizations such as Project Excel and All For One will also participate.
Approximately 30 students and eight volunteers are expected to take part in the retreat, mainly recruited from La Cuesta continuation schools and neighborhood meetings organized by yStrive workers. Participants receive community service hours or class credit for the event.
Fuentes said donations for this year’s retreat have mainly been small contributions due to complications in gaining nonprofit status for the organization.
“We don’t have a 501(c)(3) yet, so that’s really why we’re not getting anything yet,” she said.
While the nonprofit issue is still pending, Fuentes said it is pretty clear the organization isn’t rolling in dough. Its staff members and neighborhood coordinators, once paid a stipend, are now largely doing volunteer work.
Fuentes had to take a second job and, as a result, has struggled to find time to recruit in La Cuesta classrooms this year.
“We’re just going to go out to the neighborhoods and recruit from there,” she said.
Although the group receives use of a facility free of charge, funding is still needed for food, prizes, t-shirts and other costs.
With about $1,000 left over from previous fundraisers and a few food donations from local stores, the organization estimates another $4,550 is needed to pull off the event, which is planned for May 30 to June 1. Several members of the group’s board of directors are also chipping in some cash.
More information about the organization is available by calling 576-7627 or visiting

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