The promotional poster features an opening hand, brightly colored butterflies soaring upward and the word “REBIRTH” down the left side.

It’s a seemingly appropriate theme for one of the Pico Youth and Family Center’s biggest fundraisers.

The 8th annual Hope & Unity Awards Gala comes at a time of deep uncertainty for the nonprofit organization, which is seeking a major revival after being stripped of city funding earlier this year.

PYFC director Oscar de la Torre recently said his center could operate for the rest of the calendar year, but that significant boosts in revenue would be needed to keep it open beyond that.

Cue the upcoming gala, which will be held from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at Le Meridien Delfina (530 Pico Blvd.) in Santa Monica. The event will feature dinner, live entertainment and a silent auction. Tickets are $100.

Proceeds from gala ticket sales, auction items and sponsorships will support programming at the center in disciplines such as art, entertainment and technology.

The organization recently held an album release party to highlight the socially conscious music that area youths made in its recording studios. Earlier this month, students made beats with a member of the hip-hop group Dilated Peoples. This week, PYFC hosted a discussion about Dr. Dre, misogyny and violence against women.

Established in part as a response to gang violence in the neighborhood, the center aims to provide a safe space for young people to develop their skills in a variety of fields and learn about becoming active citizens.

The gala fundraiser doubles as an awards ceremony for local leaders, activists and outstanding community members.

“We are excited to share an evening of entertainment and fun at our annual dinner where some of our best local leaders will be recognized for their invaluable work,” officials said.

This year’s honorees include Sue Himmelrich and Tony Vazquez, the two Santa Monica City Council members who voted against cutting city funding for the PYFC. The council’s decision not to allocate another $190,000 to the center, which received that amount from the city last year, was a devastating blow to the group’s operating budget, de la Torre has said.

“I’ve been to their events,” Himmelrich said at the time. “They clearly reach a lot of people. I heard from people who attended the Olympic [High School] graduation ceremony that, of the three speakers, two of them mentioned PYFC and how the program had helped them.”

Other council members have accused the organization of financial mismanagement, which the PYFC denies.

Also being recognized at the gala are Santa Monica-based Tiny Rebellion, which has helped with renovations at PYFC; the national #BlackLivesMatter movement; Alex Aldana, a PYFC alumnus who now serves as an outreach specialist for the organization; Jenny Saldana, who has been active in the PYFC; and UCLA Xinachtli, which has worked with de la Torre’s nonprofit and which promotes higher education among historically underrepresented groups.

One past gala honoree was now-Mayor Kevin McKeown, who was recently involved in a funding feud with de la Torre that played out at City Council and Santa Monica-Malibu school board meetings.


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