Nonprofits help Glendale fund summer programs for youth

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It is no secret the city of Glendale is strapped for cash, and summer programs had been one of the casualties of the budget crunch until some nonprofit groups stepped in to save the day.
 
Three of the city’s community centers will now be staffed for the summer thanks to nonprofit groups.

Rose Lane Community Center was one of the centers that was empty last summer but this year, the city expects plenty of kids to be there doing summer activities thanks to an organization that strives to make a difference in kids' lives.
 
Joe Eriquez is the CEO for Heart for the City, a nonprofit that mentors youth, and in this case will be keeping kids busy during the summer.
 
Heart for the City will staff and fund a summer program at Rose Lane Community Center, something that's a big help to this cash-strapped city.
 
"Unfortunately, with the budget as a lot of Valley cities have experienced, we had to kind of taper that back,” said Erik Strunk with Glendale’s parks and recreation department.
 
Kids will have access to educational programs, sporting activities and even food.
 
"Kids are just looking for something to do, and if we don't present a positive program then that gives the opportunity for negative things to happen in their lives,” said Eriquez.
 
Michael Chavez says that's what happened to him before he got involved in Heart for the City's programs.
 
"My mother was in prison for most of my life,” said Chavez. “I lived with my grandmother and never knew who my father was. I was a very angry, very emotional type of kid. I was out of control a lot, just getting into fights at school."
 
But now, he's paying it forward by helping run the summer program for kids like Karla Tafolla, who before this group said she didn't have much initiative.
 
“Everyone always set me up for failure,” she said. “It was never, ‘You're going to do great.’ It was always like, ‘You're going to get pregnant, and you're going to be just another kid.’ "
 
Now, she plans to become an emergency room nurse.
 
Starting Monday, the doors to Rose Lane Community Center will open for the summer program at 8:30 a.m. and close at 2 p.m. They'll open back up from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The program will run Monday through Friday until July 31.

The O’Neil Recreation Center summer program will be provided by Breakthrough Life, Inc. R.O.O.T.S Outreach Monday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. until Aug. 2.

The Glendale Community Center summer program will be provided by the Glendale Youth Project Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. until Aug. 1.