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Santa Maria Hires New Outreach Coordinator in Effort to Quell Youth Violence

Eddie Galarza Click to view larger
Eddie Galarza

A Santa Maria native has been hired as the city’s new outreach coordinator to help quell youth violence. 

Eddie Galarza, who has more than 25 years of experience working with at-risk youths and their families, will fill the full-time job.

He is scheduled to start Tuesday.

The outreach coordinator stems from a spike in youth violence that led to the slaying of several teenagers.

City leaders say Galarza will work on community outreach and engagement efforts by way of collaborating with local partner agencies to reduce youth violence and juvenile delinquency. 

“Growing up with a single mom, I soon learned to call the streets home,” Galarza said. “Having grown up with this as a model only made me realize as I got older that it is not the way things should be.” 

Galarza worked for 20 years at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Maria Valley as the director of character and leadership. He implemented programs such as the Youth of the Year, the Keystone Club, the Million Hours of Service Program, and the Torch Club, and accompanied youths to national conferences. 

Additionally, he has a certificate from the Strengthening Families Foundation as a family coach trainer. 

More recently, Galarza worked for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, where he received client referrals and supported the organization’s numerous programs. 

In the newly created position, Galarza will provide direct staff support to a yet-to-be established policy committee made up of community stakeholders, and a technical committee consisting of representatives from local youth service providers. 

Galarza will initially work out of the Recreation and Parks Department.

He also will have a direct working relationship with the Police Department, the City Manager’s Office, and other partner agencies including Santa Barbara County.

As Santa Maria saw the number of homicides skyrocket in 2015 and early 2016, a grassroots effort formed to stem the violence. 

The city’s approach sparked criticism from members of the group who wanted the city to pair its funding with the county’s to create an executive level job. 

Earlier this year, the majority of City Council members rejected a proposal to combine city funding with $75,000 from Santa Barbara County for Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino's proposed North County Task Force for Youth Safety, modeled after a similar task force on the South Coast.

Supporters of the city’s approach said the outreach coordinator would provide “boots on the ground” and be someone who understands gang members.

City leaders envision the outreach coordinator working side by side with the county counterpart.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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