A Boyle Heights non-profit organization is expanding its services to a space traditionally managed by city agencies: the gymnasium and recreation center at the Pico Gardens public housing complex in Boyle Heights.
The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) awarded the facility’s management contract to Proyecto Pastoral, which on Aug. 1 took over operations from L.A.’s Dept. of Recreation and Parks.
On Aug. 2, Proyecto Pastoral held an open house to celebrate the beginning of the two-year contract to manage activities and services offered at the recreational facility.
The group’s executive director, Cynthia Sanchez, said they are thrilled to be able to expand their programs to the community serviced by the public housing facility.
“Management of the Pico Gardens gymnasium and recreation center extends from Proyecto’s commitment to strategically serve the Pico Aliso community.” she said. “For more than 26 years, we have engaged residents to identify community priorities and solutions for creating long-term sustainable change. Pico Gardens and the larger Pico Aliso community is our primary focus, and we are excited to have this opportunity to grow our work,” Sanchez said in a written statement.
The new managers say programs already established at the center will continue, and Proyecto plans to bring its IMPACTO after-school and summer program for Kindergarten through 8th grade youth to the facility. The community will also be consulted about what additional programming they would like to see offered, according to the non-profit’s press release.
Long-time Boyle Heights resident and Proyecto Pastoral Board of Directors Member Rita Chairez, said management of the Pico Gardens Gymnasium is an honor that will allow them to continue building on their grassroots work in the community. It will also allow them to create new opportunities and provide access to a variety of resources, she said.
According to Proyecto Pastoral, their contract is part of a larger effort by Los Angeles to localize management of city recreation centers. The organization’s two-year contact comes with an opportunity to renew for three additional years.
Proyecto Pastoral’s management proposal received the support of others working in the community, including Homeboy Industries, Behavioral Health Services, the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center, SoundArt, and Urban Strategies. Councilmember Jose Huizar and California State Assemblyman John Pérez also supported their effort.
Since 2010, Proyecto Pastoral’s Boyle Heights Promise Neighborhood collaborative has been working toward developing a cradle to career educational reform plan for the area. Boyle Heights was one of 21 communities nationally to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhood planning grant.
For more information about Proyecto Pastoral, and the services that will be available at Pico Gardens Gymnasium – located at 4th and Gless Streets in Boyle Heights – visit www.proyectopastoral.org.