Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Sep 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Cracking Shells

news3_TeenAdvocateWalnut 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.

Despite its name, the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center caters to more than just the needs of women. With programs open to youth and men, the nonprofit tirelessly works year-round to provide a safe place with supportive staff for various demographics.

One-on-One has paired 22 kids with adult mentors. The duos will hang out once a week for at least six months, enjoying activities and talking about whatever is on their mind. The nonprofit also hosts “Wise-Guys” and “Girl Talk” drop-in meetings (every Thursday), which provide a forum for boys and girls, respectively, ages 12 through 16 to connect with one another.

And then there’s “Girlzpace,” which offers a weekly meeting and nurturing environment for teen girls at three different locations throughout the county (WAWC, the Teen Trailer at San Lorenzo Valley High School, and the Watsonville Vet’s Hall). Girlzpace drop-in meetings are open to every high school-aged girl, and it’s a place where, according to Youth Leadership Coordinator Aleen Raybin, “they get a lot of support around their relationships with their friends, their romantic relationships, and it gives them an opportunity to really reflect on what’s important to them in order to make choices.”

Each program is led by volunteers who’ve been prepared by WAWC. Mentors underwent training for seven Saturdays spanning October through Thanksgiving. They learned about childhood domestic violence and harm reduction, what it means to be a youth advocate, how to communicate with at-risk youth, and how to facilitate groups as a mentor. Martinico says the training is “really intensive, and [participants] leave prepared not only to volunteer in our programs but also to work with youth and to work in general.”

Preventing teen pregnancy is another focus of WAWC. “Our passion is to provide support, role models, leadership opportunities and a safe place to talk about what [youth] are experiencing in their lives,” Martinico says. “This will then reduce teen pregnancy and teen dating violence and many, many other ‘risky’ behaviors.”

With budget cuts and the overall economic downturn, Martinico says that WAWC is seeking public support in the new year to continue these myriad social services.

“Right now we’re in a pretty rough place,” she tells me during an interview scheduled in between feverish grant writing. “With the amount of work that we have it’s kind of hard because we have so much work to do and we need money, so it’s hard to adjust the work schedule to create a fundraising event. Girlzpace is barely making it right now, so we’re trying to figure that out. We’re just trying to keep it all open.”

 


To learn more about Walnut Avenue Women’s Center programs, to volunteer, or to donate, call 426-3062 or go to wawc.org.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual