At last night's Sunnyside City Council meeting a number of community members spoke to the council about the importance of youth programs in the community.
The citizens want council to continue its support of Sunnyside's Promise and to add funding for Parks and Recreation programs to the 2011-12 proposed budget.
During the unscheduled appearances Herman te Velde, a representative of Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley, said members of his organization have been working in partnership with Sunnyside's Promise. Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley has assisted Sunnyside's Promise with the soccer field project near the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center, as well as other projects.
"I feel we can get a lot of work done," said te Velde, citing the efforts of Sunnyside's Promise would not be possible without continued financial support from the city of Sunnyside.
John Hughes, too, spoke to the council about the benefits of programs offered by Sunnyside's Promise. He said the community needs such programs to move forward with gang prevention in the community.
He has for a number of years worked with youth in the Sunnyside School District, most recently as the drug and alcohol prevention coordinator.
In Hughes' experience programs like those offered by Sunnyside's Promise at the Sunnyside Community Center are the most effective way to prevent youngsters from becoming active gang members.
"It seems the formula that works best is strategies to keep kids off the street," said Hughes, stating many of the youth he has worked with have similar stories of being recruited into gangs in the fourth or fifth grade.
"We need to sustain the community center," he told council.
Sister Grace Diaz of Nuestra Casa has worked with parents, youth and Sunnyside's Promise. Her organization has partnered with Sunnyside's Promise in an effort to provide support to the Spanish speaking members of the community.
She told council, "I believe the majority of Sunnyside's youth are good."
Diaz continued, stating it is important to provide programs for youth, giving them a place to go when they are not in school.
The community center and Sunnyside's Promise has filled a need in the community, she said. She told the city council there have been studies showing programs like Boys and Girls Club are beneficial to communities and youngsters.
Sunnyside's Promise and the activities at the Sunnyside Community Center serve the youngsters in the community in a similar capacity.
Dr. Rick Cole, superintendent of the Sunnyside School District, also encouraged the city council to continue its support of Sunnyside's Promise and the Sunnyside Community Center.
He outlined the partnership between the city, school district and Sunnyside Community Hospital, stating he believes the $20,000 pledged by each entity is being put to good use.
Speaking to the need for funding for Parks and Recreation programs was Carrie Alvord.
She told the city council there isn't any funding right now, but it is her desire that council provide funding for Parks and Recreation programs to serve the youth in the community.
"As a parent, I believe it is important to bring back the Parks and Recreation programs," she told council.