After months of construction, the Pico Youth and Family Center — a nonprofit organization that engages troubled youths in healthy alternatives to destructive behavior and crime — has a new home.

From 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, September 13th, the Pico Youth and Family Center will celebrate its grand opening, with a ribbon cutting ceremony promptly at 4 p.m.

All are welcome to attend.

There will be music, art, a raffle, food and a silent auction to raise money for furniture at the new facility.

“It’s great,” said executive director Oscar de la Torre, who also serves as president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board. “We’ve been closed for almost a year. We’re very excited that we’ll be opening an expanded space to the youths of our community — new and improved.”

The grand opening of the new space comes almost a year after the center, which opened in 2002, was forced to leave its home of five years — 828 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica — because property manager Pacific Bower Corp. would not renew the center’s lease.

In November, the Pico Youth and Family Center was successful in finding a new space at 715 Pico Blvd. — adjacent to Santa Monica High School — and the facility has been undergoing construction ever since.

During this time, the youth center has been functioning “remotely,” said office manager Yolanda de Cordova.

Youth center staff have been providing services at Santa Monica High School and at the Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center. Now, services will once again be provided at one location.

The youth center — which serves 180 to 240 students each year — will officially be open to youths Monday, September 22nd.

At 2,200 square feet, the new facility is about 200 square feet larger than the former one, and it will have a kitchen area and two bathrooms instead of just one, de la Torre said. It will also have air conditioning and a performance space.

The center will offer all of the same programs it did at its former location, along with some expanded services.

The center is launching its new Digital Dream Center, which will include a recording studio and a new film program.

“We’re going to teach kids how to make and edit film and we’re going to phase in graphic design and Web design,” de la Torre said, noting that the center is growing in the digital arts and multimedia areas. “It teaches marketable skills and it prepares young people for jobs in the entertainment industry that is a strong presence in Santa Monica.”

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