At Tri-Valley YMCA, Mentoring and Adult Daycare Programs Make the Splash

Explaining its mission is a little harder for the Tri-Valley YMCA simply because it is a "program branch," one without physical facilities. This runs counter to the conventional notion of the Y as the place with a pool and gym, but it also allows the local organization to focus more intently on filling community needs through an array of fresh, creative initiatives, from middle-school mentoring to an adult daycare program.

In the last three years the Tri-Valley Y has been "in expansion mode," according to its Executive Director, Kelly O'Lague Dulka. The mentoring program has been up and running for just six months. It started in Pleasanton and quickly expanded to Livermore when the "huge need" there became equally obvious.

The program targets at-risk middle-schoolers, who show signs like poor academic performance, school avoidance, or engaging in inappropriate behavior. The students "need a different adult in their life," says Dulka, noting that the Y has so far enlisted five corporate sponsors committed to support the program. Just before Thanksgiving, the board members were talking about what they were thankful for, she relates. "Mark Ruggles of BB&T told us he was grateful for his mentee. 'I feel I'm getting more out of this than he is,' he said." The Y's goal is to make 30 new mentoring matches each year. Hacienda sponsors include Fun Mobility, BB&T, and Colliers' Links for Life.

The Tri-Valley Y also supports several activities for high-school students. Last month, the Youth & Government program sent a 19-member delegation to a training conference in Paso Robles. The group made its mark as four freshmen either won statewide positions or were elected as finalists for the second conference in January.

College-planning assistance for high-school students is another new venture. Back-filling for services lost in cuts to education budgets, the new program is funded by a grant from the City of Pleasanton. The program will offer two group campus tours, first, to colleges in Southern California, in April, and then a summertime trip to the Pacific Northwest. College planning nights, with information on topics like admission requirements and financial aid, have also been very well received.

Recently, the Y was approached with a request to consider opening an adult daycare program, a suggestion that took it into unfamiliar territory. A similar facility in Livermore had closed, and a new provider was sorely needed. "We asked, 'Can the Y do this?'" Dulka explains. "Here was a chance to respond to a clear-cut need in the community. Thanks to our strong board and energetic staff, we said, 'Yes, we can.'" A facility search is in progress, to be followed by six to nine months of improvements and licensing work.

As for establishing larger quarters beyond its office on First Street in downtown Pleasanton, Dulka says the goal is to have some kind of facility - a small fitness or teen center, for example - by 2015, the local organization's 50th birthday. As expected, it will respond to community needs, she pledges. For more information, visit .

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