South County Youth Coalition helps local kids and families

The South County Youth Coalition is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that collaborates with other agencies to provide numerous services to children and families.

The Fun Run each October at the Nipomo Park is the major fundraising event of the year. The Nipomo Community Thanksgiving Dinner, held this past weekend, is one of the SCYC’s sponsored events that benefits from student volunteers of the Key Club (Kiwanis) at Nipomo High School.

Laurie Morgan, treasurer, and full-time systems coordinator of Services Affirming Family Empowerment, is a founding member of South County Youth Coalition. A group was formed in 1995 “to work collaboratively toward services for children and families in South County.”

South County Youth Coalition includes the Nipomo Youth Coalition under the umbrella of the Family Resource Centers. SCYC received tax-exempt status and became a 503 (c) non-profit in 1998.

Mary Squellati, of Nipomo, is site coordinator for the Nipomo and Oceano Family Resource Centers and volunteers with the youth coalition in several capacities, including the Fun Run, and helping out all day at the Nipomo Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

South County Youth Coalition is supported entirely by grants with all money going directly to children and families. The grants support families who would not otherwise be able to send their children to summer camps, science camp or a yearly trip to Yosemite for Mesa Middle school students. The grants also allow children the means to participate in sports teams and provides music, dance and art lessons.

They all must be South County youths. Up to $100 is provided by South County Youth Coalition per year per family. There must be a referring party, such as a social worker, teacher, coach or family advocate.

Another fund provides up to $250 for academic scholarships, help with college applications and/or necessary food or clothing. In addition, a recent grant through the Community Foundation of $10,000 will help people get back on their feet with money for car repairs, interview clothing, uniforms, etc.

Another stream of funding provides money for health related needs, such as wheelchairs, leg braces, gas vouchers, co-pays and healthy food, in partnership with the Food Bank.

Morgan praised Squellati as “the heart and soul of the Fun Run,” coordinating the event, which takes place the 2nd Saturday of October each year at the Nipomo Park. It consists of three events: a half-mile walk for children, who get a pumpkin and a ribbon; an adult 4-mile competitive run with medals awarded; and a 2-mile walk for kids and adults.

Squellati, president of Nipomo Kiwanis, said the Nipomo Community Thanksgiving Dinner is helped by youthful volunteers sponsored by the Coalition. The purpose is to provide a “traditional home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for individuals and families who are in need,” according to the flyer, “leaving you both spiritually and physically blessed.”

The Coalition also provides parenting classes in Spanish and English, a new 10-week parent leadership academy, and a new pilot fathers group starting in January. “The parents so much want to give back to their community,” said Morgan.

Other services include community forums on such topics as gang prevention, communicating with your teen, bullying and teen sexual assault.

For more information to volunteer, donate or request help, please contact Laurie Morgan at (805) 474-2032.