Walnut Avenue Women’s Center helps local youth open up
It’s a quiet Friday afternoon in December at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, where the energy is one of a focused nonprofit working with its nose to the grind. The last thing I expect to hear is that, hours later, the locale will look like a bustling social hub.
“It’s going to turn into Club 303,” says Rita Martinico, WAWC’s director of Youth Development Services, noting the organization’s spot at 303 Walnut Ave. “Tonight is a big party.”
Not your usual Friday night soiree, this particular event will turn out to be a chance for volunteer mentors to socialize with prospective youth “mentees,” as Martinico nicknames them, for WAWC’s successful One-on-One effort. It’s a program that provides personal relationships with positive role models for kids ages 12 through 18. Dinner, music, plenty of friendly warmth and streamers as sparkling as the smiles will take over the lounge, which earlier in the day feels stark. The evening will host the beginning of some life-changing experiences.