Sheri Samson
Local youth Trey watches his brother RaRa attempt a pool shot while friends Jayce and Brandon look on at he YCAC in Hawthorne.

“The YCAC is a place where kids can come for sports activities or just for the safety of being at our center. I guess you could say we are the place where kids are mentored and monitored, to enjoy the free-styled choices we offer,” shared Alicia Larson, part-time director.

Located at 600 C Street in Hawthorne, this historic building has withstood structural adjustments along the way, with sporadic changes and closures never altering the goal known as the Young Citizen’s Activities Center.

With brightly painted walls and a variety of table games available, the kids stream in once school is out. Using their own chosen routines after signing in, the children seem to gravitate to the entertainment they wish to use for the time there. With the open hours of Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a Friday schedule of 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., this facility seems to bring in older elementary aged kids, along with their siblings.

“Since we don’t feed the children, most go home first then come by to hang out. Our basic age group runs predominantly from ages ten to 14, as we are a central location that offers some game time fun for them,” Larson continued to say.

A small child play area is set up near the director’s reception area, as well as a television and books. Children can relax on a couch to read, or may participate in basketball within the gym area.

With an open concept, this recreational center allows a safe location for kids that prefer being with others in a “self-serve” environment. Equipment is checked out, with use of ping pong paddles to bouncy balls and other small sporting items. Children are self-guided and overseen by whichever director is on duty.

Rooms are also available for rent, with tables and chairs, while the gym section rotates many local sporting volleyball and junior varsity basketball teams will utilize the gym with signup times available. Sports are emphasized by seasonal trends, but collaborative efforts among the park and recreational opportunities are well coordinated. Currently a 4-H sponsored basketball season was in place within the gym area.

Samantha Lopez, another part-time employee for the YCAC, shares the duties within the building, while the county is currently seeking a realignment of staffing.

Larson stated, “Everyone plays an intake role in the community of assisting our children. Although there may appear to be several entities in town that work with kids, we all play a different part and reach a separate need or age group. All our collaborative efforts piggy-back with one another as we are achieving a big need within this community. No one is in competition with each other, but instead we seem to be a separate piece within a very big picture.”

In looking forward, the YCAC is hoping to add a gaming console and be flexible in creating adjustments along the way. The public is welcomed to stop by for a tour of the facilities or to find out more about utilizing the building for group events.