The center helps more than 3,000 children ages 3 to 18 develop their potential through social, educational and recreational programs. Despite its contribution to the community, the center does not receive local, state or federal funding.
"It gives them an alternative instead of going out and getting in trouble," said Tim Johnson, who nominated the Youth Center for ABC7's Pay It Forward campaign. "It gives them somewhere to go with a little more structure."
As a kid, the Youth Center was Johnson's favorite hangout. Decades later, the same is true for his sons.
As another parent put it, the Youth Center is a place where children can feel at home and take part in activities for free.
"They are in families that really can't afford anything and the Youth Center is the only place they could go to be kids," said the center's executive director, Lina Lumme.
The Youth Center has the only music program in the area for elementary kids. But budget cuts, a tough economy and the demand to accommodate the children has left the center running out of room.
Plans to build a park for extra space had to be shelved until at least 2012 because fundraising has been slow. But with $7,000 they can start building the park immediately.
"That will keep the kids off the streets and will keep them off the parking lot, because we don't have appropriate outside area for them," Lumme said.
After watching the submission video, the Pay It Forward judges saw a clear need. For this reason, the Los Alamitos Youth Center was chosen as a recipient of $7,000 from ABC7's Pay It Forward campaign to build its park.
"I'm speechless," Lumme said. "It's truly a blessing. I can't say enough for how many lives can be changed."
If you would like to contact the Los Alamitos Youth Center or donate to the non-profit, visit www.theyouthcenter.org or call (562) 493-4043.