On Thursday, January 12th the City broke ground for the Citrus Heights Children and Youth Center and celebrated the next phase of the Sayonara Drive transformation. The new center will provide a new home for the after school program run by Campus Life. Due to the City's and Campus Life's efforts, crime has permanently decreased and a sense of community is being fostered.
The City, through the Citrus Heights Redevelopment Agency, has invested over $3 million in Sayonara Drive; an area that before the City's actions had 32 times the number of calls for service than the rest of the City. The City purchased and demolished 14 four-plexs and 1 eight-plex, of which, a majority were vacant. As a result, crime has decreased 74 percent; violent crimes such as assault and rape have decreased over 50 percent.
In the coming years the properties on the west end of Sayonara Drive will be developed with new affordable housing and the property on the east side of Ming Way will soon house a neighborhood park that will serve the youth center.
An integral part of this transformation has been the existing Community Center run by Campus Life. The center has been operating successfully on the street for 8 years. When it opened the center was serving 20 children, and now boasts an attendance of more than 130. More than 35 volunteers are available to tutor children who come to the center struggling academically.
The children, with support from Gladys Standard and her volunteers, are eventually able to boast of higher grades and increased self confidence. The new center will be completed in April of this year and will include rooms for both elementary and middle school children. The children will have access to a computer room, a new kitchen for snack time and large gathering areas for homework help and game time.
The center serves children like Javier, a kindergartner who has been waiting for years to come. His two older siblings have been at the center for four years, and now it is finally his turn. With his hands pressed on either side of his face, he scoots in close and says, ''Miss Gladys, I love it here!'' Children eagerly await the day they are old enough to come to the center.