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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

Grant, Donation Aid Bid To Expand Family Center

Grant, Donation Aid Bid To Expand Family Center By JACQUELINE FOX Staff Reporter San Fernando-based Valley Family Center has received a $75,000 federal grant from Congressman Howard Berman that will be used to help pay for the center’s planned $2 million expansion plans. The center, established in 1987, provides mental health counseling and educational services to some 3,000 low-income residents and their family members each year. Demand for the center’s services over time has created a need for more space and, through a grant from the Rydell Automotive Group, its directors have managed to purchase an adjacent swath of property where they plan to build a new, two-story wing to accommodate an additional 2,000 clients each year. The new, 15,000-square foot addition will connect to the existing building by a connector bridge and will be used primarily to provide larger class and group meeting rooms. The center has also received a $100,000 grant from the William H. Hannon Foundation for its capital campaign. That, along with Berman’s contribution, center officials hope, will spur interest by and more donations from other business groups and local and state and federal officials. “The gift from Howard Berman means we will hopefully be able to solicit other funding to match it and we can dream into reality some of the things we’ve been talking about doing here for quite a while,” said the center’s top administrator and Learning Center Director, Sister Carmel Somers. The center has also acquired a small piece of property across the street that will be paved and turned into a new parking structure, the first step in the expansion plan because the new wing will eventually go where the center’s current parking structure now sits. Somers said she expects construction of the new parking structure will begin in about six months and that, funding provided, the entire expansion project could be completed in roughly two years. Valley Family Center’s services include marriage and family, individual and group counseling, child and spousal abuse prevention, and one of the Valley’s largest programs for court-ordered and volunteer domestic violence perpetrators, including anger management groups serving roughly 400 men and women each year. Clients pay on a sliding scale for most services. The Learning Center also provides tutoring and small group instruction for roughly 50-70 children grades 1-8, and caters to high school students who are struggling to pass courses in math, reading, science and composition. The center receives some government assistance for victims of crimes. All other courses and services are supported by grants and donations and through on-going fundraising efforts, Somers said.

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