By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The Glendale Youth Alliance celebrated its 20th anniversary with a luncheon and award ceremony at Mandaloun Restaurant in downtown Glendale on April 17. In front of a number of government representatives and prominent members of the community, the organization recognized outstanding individuals and corporations while celebrating its growth and achievements.
Dedicated to providing employment opportunities for at-risk youth in Glendale, the GYA was founded on the principle that available jobs are the most powerful tool in fighting gang membership and securing a brighter future for the next generation of Glendale residents.
Since its creation in 1993, the GYA has worked with businesses, community leaders and the City of Glendale to provide jobs and employment preparedness for deserving 14-to-24 year olds in the city. Over 7,000 youth throughout the region have received job training or employment due to the program.
The GYA has also created a fund for graduating seniors who are in pursuit of higher education, awarding 91 scholarships since 2002.
At the awards ceremony, the GYA recognized a number of individuals and businesses that have helped further its goals. Payless Shoe Source and Glendale Federal Credit Union were awarded the Community Partnership Award and Corporate Partnership Award, respectively, for their continued support of Glendale’s at-risk youth. Additionally, Junior Achievement of Southern California received the Employer of the Year Award for its JA Finance Park program, allowing middle and high school students a month-long opportunity to experience the world of finance and further career exploration.
Along with the businesses honored, a number of individuals received recognition. The Friend of Youth Award was presented to both Arno Avakian and Sgt. John Gilkerson for their influence on Glendale’s youth. City Clerk Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian received the Legacy Award for his ongoing dedication to the young people in the city.
Among the attendees were Art Resendez, treasurer of the Wilshire State Bank and executive board member of the GYA.
“The place was filled to capacity and there was a genuine buzz about what the community could do to keep GYA going and doing more of the good work it has for over 20 years,” said Resendez.
Also announced at the event was the 2012-13 annual report for the organization, in which all of the GYA’s programs met or exceeded their yearly goals. Programs include the Glendale’s Resource for Employment and Training that partners employers with high achieving GYA youths, and the Summer Youth Employment Program that provides basic employment training and life skills to 14-to-16 year olds looking for first-time job experience through brush clearing that simultaneously reduces the fire risk on the hillsides.
Speaking on behalf of the youth was Jeff Thomas, a local resident with first hand experience of the importance of youth intervention.
“GYA gives [the youth] an opportunity to have a hands-on work experience within the city so that they know what to expect once they venture off on their own as young, responsible adults,” said Thomas. “GYA has a dedicated staff that helps young adults and today’s youth create a foundation of how the workforce works in physical form.”
Those interested in the GYA’s services or to find out more about the organization can find information online at www.glendaleyouthalliance.org.