By Jason KUROSU
Local YMCAs honored Congressman Adam Schiff during a special ceremony Tuesday afternoon, awarding him the YMCA Congressional Champion Award at the Phoenicia Restaurant in Glendale.
The YMCA Congressional Champion Award is an annual honor given to legislators “for their work in supporting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” said JC Holt, president and CEO of the Burbank Community YMCA.
“Our friend and representative has done more than support the work of the Y,” said Holt. “He’s lived it with his family’s membership as well as securing funding for important programs like our Youth and Government Program.”
Schiff was originally presented the award during a February reception in Washington, DC, but Tuesday’s event allowed him to receive the award in his Congressional district before local representatives from four Los Angeles District YMCAs and city leaders from Glendale, Burbank and La Cañada.
“I think in every community there are a few really core institutions that keep the community together, that make it thrive, that are integral to the success of that community and the YMCA is exactly that organization,” said Schiff. “It has been really a privilege to work with all the Y chapters in our Congressional district. I think we have some of the best anywhere in the state, if not in the entire country.”
Schiff credited YMCA for its attention not only to “physical health, but attention to mental health and attention to character building.”
“I can’t think of anything that pleases me more than to be recognized by an organization that I so admire,” said Schiff.
The award was given to Schiff with particular recognition for his co-sponsorship of the Child Protection Improvements Act. The bill would streamline the ability of organizations such as the YMCA to access and request state and national background checks on prospective employees and volunteers.
“Tragically, we do have situations where predators and others will seek positions of proximity to young people and we want to make sure we protect all of our kids,” said Schiff. “The worst thing in the world would be for a family to bring a young person to an organization that they know and trust and love and find out that that trust was not fulfilled.”
Holt called the bill “legislation that would help many youth-serving organizations better protect those people so dear to us, our youth.”
Schiff said the legislation “should be a no-brainer issue, but frankly, there are a lot of very common sense measures that die in U.S. Congress these days.”
Members of the YMCA’s Youth and Government Program presented Schiff with the award.