Carlsbad’s Join Hands Save Life celebrating 20th year with barrio fiesta
By José A. López
Aug 01, 2011
Join Hands Save a Life, a youth club that aims to keep kids in the Carlsbad barrio out of gangs and drugs, is commemorating its 20th anniversary this month with a celebration, which will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21 at Pine Avenue Community Park, 3333 Harding St.
Frank Anthony Sorino, the organization’s founder and president, said the event, which has been dubbed Peace Sunday: Barrio Fiesta 2011, will feature car and motorcycle shows, live music and dance performances, art, games, raffles and food and drinks for sale. Vendors are still being sought.
“This is a celebration of the 20 years that we have worked with kids in the neighborhood,” Sorino said. “A lot of the kids we’ve worked with have grown up and gone up to other things. They’ve formed bands, they have jobs and this fiesta will allow us to celebrate that.”
The event will also be a way to highlight the groups steadfast mission — to build a youth center in the barrio that will help Join Hands Save a Life reach even more of the city’s children.
The group owns land on Roosevelt Street, which it purchased in 1994. It has permits for the facility, the foundation has been laid and the steel structure has been erected.
“We’re probably more than half-way done,” Sorino said, adding that volunteers are ready to start framing and putting a roof on the structure. They are currently seeking donations to help pay for the cost of materials, or of materials themselves.
Sorino said that his goal is to have the structure enclosed by the end of the summer.
When complete, Sorino said that youth center will offer a free gym, which will include boxing classes, volleyball, basketball and other sports; a computer lab for children interested in building websites; a music room and recording area; a multipurpose room for theater and dance classes; a weight room; and a commercial-grade kitchen for youngsters interested in learning how to cook or run a food-based business.
Currently, Join Hands Save a Life, operating out of Sorino’s garage, attracts more than 300 kids during the year, which translates to 5,000 youth visits. The boxing club — which is perhaps the most visible activity the club is involved in, has included four Golden Glove winners, three district champions and two junior Olympians. Joey Beltran, who used to frequent the club, is a mixed martial artist with the UFC.
Sorino noted, however, that the club’s other offerings are necessary to reach a wider audience, and have just a strong a following.
“One kid might be into arts, while the other might be into volleyball, and another might want to dance or cook,” Sorino said. “We want to create a multidimensional place where every kid can go and find something positive to do. I was a teenager, and when I had nothing to do, me and my friends were going to get into trouble.”
Sorino said that while the club has been a part of other celebrations in the Carlsbad barrio, this is the first time that it’s organized its own event.
For more information about the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.