By Jessica King
When Ramona Unified School Board member Kim Lasley learned late last month that the Arriba Teen Center had suddenly lost its funding source, she feared the worse.
It was only $250 a month, but it covered the center’s utility bills and allowed volunteers staffers to keep the doors open.
“It kind of happened real quick … and I was like ‘oh my gosh, what are we going to do?” said Lasley.
There were no hard feelings, said Lasley, who explained the $250 came from a local business that closed. Nonetheless, it put support of the center in a pickle.
Word of the funding loss spread quickly to local media and just as fast as the bad news broke, good news sprang up.
Jane Tanaka, an adolescent psychiatrist based in Ramona, read about the loss and phoned Lasley, pledging $250 a month of her own money to keep the center open.
“She called that night and had me in tears,” said Lasley. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
The center, which is open three days a week on Montecito Road at the former site of Ramona Community School, attracts an average of 25 to 30 teens every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 3 to 6 p.m. The teens take advantage of computers, game tables, a lounge room and other activities free of charge.
In a comment posted on Ramonasentinel.com, Tanaka wrote: “This center really does keep kids occupied in a healthy way … I pledge $250 a month for as long as there is a need and they can keep the Arriba Teen Center open with adult supervision … I respectfully challenge other health care providers in Ramona to meet (or) beat this pledge.”
In a phone interview, Tanaka said it came down to not wanting others’ good efforts to go to waste.
“It seemed to me that it would be a shame for just $250 month (the teen center) would shut down when so many people have put so much effort into putting it together,” said Tanaka.
Ramona is fortunate to have people like Tanaka, said Lasley.
“I’ve lived in Ramona for 22 years,” said Lasley. “People in this community are just phenomenal. We’ve seen it time and time again.”
Tanaka has lived in Ramona since 1997. Her husband, Greg Chick, has been involved in the local Rotary club since the couple first arrived in town.
In the past, Tanaka has helped her husband and other Rotarians put on the annual Ramona Music Festival, and she’s volunteered at Rotary’s annual July 4th Family Picnic and Fireworks Show.
To learn more about how to help the Arriba Teen Center stay open, stop by 1710 Montecito Road between 3 and 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. Center officials may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.