GONZALES — Every Thursday Jean Salcido would meet with the youngsters from the Gonzales Youth Guardians in Central Park, where she would mentor the at-risk youth through sports and games.
But, being outside in the park was problematic at times. Weather was always a determining factor in which type of activities could be performed.
Through a partnership with The Salvation Army, the youth group has moved its meeting place to the Vosti Recreation Center, 107 Centennial Drive.
The move has allowed the Guardians to meet rain or shine, and with the help of The Salvation Army, they also have access to more programs and funding. The group now meets twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Founded by Salcido, the group’s mission is to reach out to at-risk youth through sports and mentoring. Since acquiring a safe and secure meeting place, their membership has more than doubled.
“There is so much need, kids falling through the cracks, those are the ones I’m after,” Salcido said.
The purpose of her group is to get children off the streets and involved in positive activities. While together, youth play games, say a prayer and share a small meal. This is Salcido’s way to keep them busy, give them fellowship and hopefully steer them away from gangs, drugs and other diversions that could be harmful.
Gonzales Youth Guardians is a free program for local youth and is dependent on donations. Fundraisers are also held throughout the year to help the program. Applications for spring and summer camps for youth will be available soon.