Youth Alliance honors locals Friday

The Youth Alliance, formerly the Hollister Youth Alliance, will honor four community members at its Community Hero Awards on March 30 at San Juan Oaks Golf Course.

The annul fundraising event marks the first one since the nonprofit expanded services into the Gilroy area and staff members were sure to make sure both communities will be included in the celebration.

The Youth Alliance will honor Mary Damm and Kasten Delgado, from San Benito County, and Gudalupe and Alfredo Lopez, from Gilroy. The staff members advertised in the communities for nominations of people who have shown exemplary commitment to youth as well as for a teen who has been an inspiration to others for the inspiration award.

“As we’ve begun our work it’s amazing to see the similarities as well as the different needs,” said Diane Ortiz, of the Youth Alliance’s work in Gilroy. “We work with so many people and we know its important to partner with other folks who are like minded and have the same vision of healthy youth.”

The Youth Alliance provides a variety of services in San Benito County, including after school programs, summer camps and counseling for families in need. They were a key partner in the Dunne Park project, which lead to improvements at the downtown park last year. In Gilroy, they are running an after school program at Glenview Elementary School.

Honoree Kasten Delgado exemplifies what the Youth Alliance is all about. A college student at Gavilan College, who now works for the Youth Alliance, he started out as a volunteer.

“He was very committed to working in the after school program as a volunteer,” Ortiz said. “He led some of our youth activities in summer camp and was a youth worker.”

After gaining some job experience as a volunteer, he was later hired onto the staff.

“He has had different struggles in his life, but you would never know it because he is continually positive and optimistic,” Ortiz said. “If he doesn’t have a car, he will ride his bike.”

In addition to working with the Youth Alliance, Delgado has coached other youth in San Juan Bautista and has been a role model to other youth as well as the adults with whom he works.

“He is a great role model to all of us, actually,” Ortiz said.

Enrique Luna, a Youth Alliance board member, said he looks forward to the Hero Awards as a chance to connect with new people in the community.

“We wanted to recognize people from both communities,” he said. “I’m always amazed. I can’t see how anyone works that many things into a day that these folks are doing.”

He said this year he wasn’t familiar with three of the honorees.

“It’s a nice social gathering to add a new familiarity with others,” he said. “A big part of the hero award is I get to see people I don’t know. It’s an introduction for me to the community.”

Luna said the event has strived to recognize teens in recent years.

“It’s not just city leaders, but youth who are working with youth,” he said. “The youth are also heroes.”

Ortiz said the event is the main fundraiser for the Youth Alliance.

“We are able to continue our services because of the commitment from the community and response we get with this fundraiser is really important to being able to sustain some of our programs,” she said. “We do some of the things that we believe are priorities such as a safe place for kids to be, counseling support and family support.”

Luna said though the event is a fundraiser, he finds another aspect of it more important.

“They really do very authentic and very cool things for youth,” he said of the honorees. “I think that’s the biggest part – the recognition of work that lots of people do. It’s an opportunity for community members to tell us who should be recognized with the award.”




The event will be held on March 30 at San Juan Oaks Golf Club located at 3825 Union Road in Hollister. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for Reception & Auction Preview, Program and Dinner at 7 p.m. Music and mingling until 11 p.m. 
Tickets are available for $50 a person online website at or you may send a check payable to the Youth Alliance:
Youth Alliance, Attn: Hero
P.O. Box 1291 Hollister CA 95024-1291.

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