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‘Calipat SOS Den': Celebration marks IVROP's teen center opening

March 23, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — A teen center has opened its doors to the city's youths to offer life-changing opportunities.

On Thursday the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program Steps of Success program's "Calipat SOS Den" had a grand-opening celebration.

The center is at the corner of Alexandria Street and Railroad Avenue in the former city recreation center.

The center is designed for 14- to 21-year-olds. There are no other eligibility requirements.

The funding for the center comes from a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor being administered by the SOS program.

The grant was awarded in March 2000. Funding for the center has been approved through June 2003, after which Congress will have to re-authorize funding.


The center will offer youths help with homework, studying, tutoring, personal counseling and other needs.

Young people participating will have access to exercise equipment, computers hooked to the Internet, a pool table, educational field trips and more.

"The teen center's intent is to be a reward to youth who are making healthy choices," said SOS program Director Efrain Silva.

"It's a tremendous success, a tribute to the community of Calipatria and a tremendous opportunity for the youth," Silva added.

Said Sylvia Castañeda, center coordinator: "I hope the kids take advantage of what we have here to help them."

Mark Hughes, 21, of Calipatria had just been released from jail when he joined the SOS program.

Hughes has since received his GED and with the help of the center's staff is looking for a job.

"It let me know I have a future. I think it's wonderful because it keeps kids off drugs and helps get them a job," said Hughes.

Juanita Hill, 18, of Calipatria has gone through the SOS program.

Hill graduated last year from Calipatria High School and was looking for something that would help her envision her future.

"I thought it was a good opportunity and I wanted to see what they offered," Hill said.

Castañeda mentioned an upcorming event in the city skateboard park where food, music, entertainment and more will be offered to youth. The event is tentatively set for April 28.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.

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