SPOTLIGHT: Community Partnership For Youth
Community Partnership for Youth has influenced three generations in Seaside and neighboring cities.
By Celia Jiménez
There was a time in the early 1990s that Shari Hastey remembers as a rough time for Seaside. Violence and drug dealing were not uncommon. The death of a young athlete, Ramon Avila, was the last straw and the community decided to take action.
In 1992, nonprofit Community Partnership for Youth (CPY) was created, originally with a focus on children ages 7-9, eventually expanding its reach
to middle and high school students.
“We try to create an atmosphere of acceptance, no matter what—unconditional love,” says Hastey, now CPY’s executive director.
Programming was originally focused on guiding participants to make choices not to participate in gangs and use drugs, but has expanded in breadth too. Participants today attend leadership, after-school, summer and art programs. “We support our students with academics, behavior and life skills,” says Ben Bruce, CPY’s program director. “We are trying to meet the needs of each individual kid.”
Back in 1999, Bruce was a seventh-grader in CPY’s middle school leadership program. “That was a really special summer for me,” he says. His mentor, who he remembers as “Mr. Jason,” helped him to find a sense of purpose: “He really gave a voice that I didn’t know I had.”
He says he went from being a bystander to being a participant, leading and guiding other kids.
His story of staying involved over 21 years is not unique. Many teens come
back to the Leadership High School program and volunteer as mentors for younger kids. Through the High School Leadership, Life Skills & Job Preparation, many get their first paid jobs as CPY mentors.
“I used to be really shy,” says Andrea Quiroz, 17. She is a high school mentor who started out in CPY when she was in elementary school. Helping kids ages 6-12 has made her more patient and responsible. She’s now more confident and outspoken too. “Any kid that joins CPY will definitely be the best that they can be,” Quiroz says.
CPY’s programs are designed to create a cycle of intergenerational leadership; Bruce’s and Quiroz’s moms also attended a CPY leadership program.
During the pandemic, CPY made its latest adjustment, moving to a mostly online mentoring program They are currently offering two in-person after-
school programs helping around 80 kids from the Monterey Unified School
District. They also partnered with All In Monterey and the Food Bank for Monterey County for weekly food distributions to participating families.