Happy House Community United San Jose Had an Amazing 2012
It’s difficult to know where to begin when looking at all the good things that have been accomplished by the Community United San Jose Chapter of Happy House. At the heart of their success is The Good Choices Program being delivered to youth who live in areas that are deemed “hot spots” of crime, drugs and gang activity.
The Good Choices Program not only helps youth make better choices, but it helps the staff communicate with the youth through the common language used in the How to Make Good Choices booklet. Disciplinary problems are much easier to handle when the kids can look at their own actions as a “good” or “bad” choice that influences the happiness and survival potential for themselves and others.
Due to the success of this program, the City of San Jose has awarded the Mayor’s Safe Summer Initiative Grant to Community United for the past 4 years. This grant helps keep The Good Choices Program running during the summer months, thereby keeping at-risk youth off the streets and involved in activities that create a positive influence in their neighborhoods.
In partnership with the City of San Jose, Community United operates two youth centers year round, Starbird and Alma. At these centers, at-risk youth from the neighborhood get the opportunity to engage in empowering activities such as homework tutoring, computer training, arts and crafts projects, sports, dance, music/media projects and more.
This past year, Community United partnered with the pro soccer team, the San Jose Earthquakes, who came to the Starbird Youth Center to practice with the kids and help them with their homework. But if that wasn’t enough, the Quakes funded a make-over on the “homework room” at the center, with new furnishings and decorations, top-of-the-line computers and new supplies for the kids to study and learn. They even joined in on the re-painting!
The Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation, in collaboration with the Earthquakes, provided the youth with tickets to ALL Earthquakes home games, which of course, they attended in full style, including tailgate parties and actual training sessions with Quake supporter/mentors!
The Adobe Youth Voices/1st Act Silicon Valley provided state-of-the-art multimedia equipment and software to Community United by installing media stations where the youth now can learn music, sound and video production—something not otherwise available to them. Now they can discover and demonstrate their potential for digital arts and media.
Other opportunities were made available to the kids, as follows:
- Junior Rangers Program in partnership with Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation
- All those who completed The Good Choices Program were treated to a full day at Great America® theme park
- An essay contest, sponsored by Xactly® Corporation with Specialized® Bikes, was held amongst the youth, wherein they wrote what they learned from The Good Choices Program and described how they used it in their lives. Seven winners were awarded brand new Specialized Bicycles at a special event and the results can be seen on Xactly’s Facebook page in all its splendor!
- Alma youth worked together and created a giant greeting card (4’ x 8’) and entered it into the 2012 Fantasy of Lights Giant Greeting Card Contest. Their creation was on display at Vasona Park, Los Gatos for a month. Their card won FIRST PLACE in all four categories! They were awarded a day trip to Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk for 40 kids!!!
- Community United participated in many community events, giving out How to Make Good Choices booklets to hundreds of kids and their families: Festival in the Park, National Night Out, Take Flight for Kids and Day onthe Bay
- CU San Jose hosted and prepared a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at both centers for the youth and their families
- Towards the end of December, CU San Jose hosted and prepared a delicious holiday meal for these families. In partnership with Family Giving Tree, they provided toys, games and other gifts to the kids. Even Santa Claus showed up to help distribute the presents!
The Elks Lodge, located down the street from the Alma Youth Center, recognized the good works being done in the neighborhood and decided to hold a fund raiser to help support Community United’s programs.
Community United’s Second Annual Golf Tournament Fund raiser was held in August which was a total success. Over 100 players came out to Golf for the Cause which exceeded last year’s attendance by 60%!
Trader Joe’s and Second Harvest Food Bank provided food weekly to the youth centers.
Community United San Jose is looking forward to another amazing year of expansion providing opportunities to at-risk youth and creating a “Good Choices Generation.”
See their new 2012 website: www.communityunitedsj.org.