From left, Cliff Lambert, Mitch Torina, Pastor James Earl Clay and Guy Walker gathered to talk efforts behind the Lompoc Teen Center aimed at setting youth up for success.
From left, Cliff Lambert, Mitch Torina, Pastor James Earl Clay and Guy Walker gathered to talk efforts behind the Lompoc Teen Center aimed at setting youth up for success. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A new teen center partially modeled after a program in Santa Barbara will aim to put Lompoc youths on the path to success and away from violence. 

Cliff Lambert, a retiree with 25 years in youth recreation activities for the city of Santa Barbara and a member of the Lompoc Youth Violence Coalition, has joined with Mitch Torina, a retired Santa Barbara Unified School District administrator, and others to launch the new center this summer.

The Teen Center will create a safe space for youths, helping them flourish and maximize their potential, according its mission statement.

While Lompoc has other youth programs, Lambert said he found in working with teens in Santa Barbara that they want a space of their own.

“This is going to be unique because it specifically is going to be for teens,” Lambert said.

In terms of amenities, Lambert said, the Teen Center boasts facilities others program administrators have already envied. 

The team leased facilities at True Vine Bible Fellowship for the Teen Center, with areas eyed for a study hall, game room, lounge, recording studio, gym, stage and more.

Those working to launch the teen center say their effort has focused on a collaborative nature with a number of existing programs serving the community. 

Summer will focus on assorted activities and field trips, but the fall will see the launch of the Yes I Can – Si Se Puede Program to mimic the Program for Effective Access to College (PEAC) at Santa Barbara Unified. 

“What we’re trying to do is basically the same thing — small cohort of students who have some affinity, some skill sets that would lead teachers and schools to believe they could be good college students,” Torina said. 

The new Teen Center will link up the Lompoc Unified School District.

“We’ll work collaboratively with the schools to be able to monitor them and all the parameters that we look at for success of students — everything from GPA to attendance to discipline,” Torina added. “And we’ll also help with interventions if some of those students start to become wayward, because we know the junior high or middle schools are where that happens.”

If everything goes well, the Lompoc Teen Center hopes to open in mid-June for a summer program.

They initially plan to serve 30-35 youths from junior high to high school, aiming to serve those from low- to moderate-income families.

The Endowment for Youth Committee, the largest African-American-led nonprofit on the Central Coast, is a fiscal sponsor and critical partner in the endeavor.

“This is exciting to see EYC holding hands with the Lompoc Teen Center to make sure it gets off the ground,” Lambert said.

“We’re all aiming for the same thing, which is student success,” EYC’s Guy Walker said. 

Lambert also is working at lining up funding from other foundations and organizations to help with costs.

Plans for the summer include field trips to museums, whale watching, college tours, speakers and more. One trip may take youths to a Los Alamos ranch for an overnight camping trip.

“The idea is try to get young folks, especially from Lompoc, out of their environment, out of their neighborhood, which sometimes doesn’t facilitate growth. Just the expansion of what’s possible, that the world is bigger than their four-block radius,” said Torina, who grew up with Lambert on Santa Barbara’s Eastside.

Teen Center membership will cost $50 for the summer and $50 for the school year, with financial aid available for families in need.

A fundraiser, with live and silent auctions, planned from 1 to 4 p.m. March 12 at the True Vine Bible Fellowship, 533 Avalon St. in Lompoc, will raise money for the center’s post-secondary scholarship program. 

Tickets cost $50 and can purchased by calling Lambert at 805.350.9138, or sending an email to

Volunteers and part-time staff also are sought to fill roles as recreation leaders, programming assistant/case worker and van drivers. 

They also want people to teach various classes such as financial literacy or money management, hip hop, performance arts, and web management. 

High school students interested in being considered for the Teen Advisory Committee should also submit resumes. 

To apply, contact Lambert at or Torina at:

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.