Mee Memorial Healthcare System Rena Salamacha
Rena Salamacha, CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System

A few months ago, I attended a dedication ceremony at the Darlene Acosta Youth Center at Sun Street Centers in King City to celebrate the completion of the Rotary Student Lounge. Mee Memorial Healthcare System is highly committed to supporting the health and well-being of our young residents, and seeing the care and attention the Rotary Club and community have poured into this center was deeply inspiring.

The young people of our community will shape South County’s future, and their health and well-being will be the foundation on which their success stands. Recognizing the challenges that teens and young adults face in today’s society, we must empower them with the education, knowledge and tools to make positive choices that will contribute to a vibrant, fulfilling and drug-free life.

Community involvement is vital to fostering a supportive environment for our youth. When we come together as a community, we create a network of support that reinforces positive decision-making. Parents, healthcare professionals, educators and community leaders must collaborate to ensure our youth can access the resources and guidance they need to thrive.

The Darlene Acosta Youth Center is an invaluable resource that is becoming a hub for engagement, education and empowerment. The center will play a pivotal role in nurturing our young residents’ physical, mental and emotional well-being by providing education about making healthy choices to prevent alcohol and drug addiction. It is a safe and inclusive space with resources such as counseling services, a computer room, a clothing closet, a food pantry and a creative arts program.

Girls Inc. of the Central Coast is another valuable resource available to the community. This active organization provides educational programs and mentorship resources to help young women navigate life’s challenges, build confidence and take steps toward a healthy, happy and prosperous future.

The Darlene Acosta Youth Center and Girls Inc. of the Central Coast, among other organizations, stand as a testament to our community’s dedication to nurturing the potential of every young individual. As a community, we can support these organizations’ important work as we collaborate to create an environment where our youth are encouraged to make choices that contribute to their overall health and happiness. 

The following are a few tips for young people, parents and community members alike to help promote a healthy and drug-free lifestyle:

Education is Empowerment

Encourage the young people in your life to actively seek information about the impact of their choices on their long-term health and well-being. Understanding the consequences of drug and alcohol use and adopting a proactive approach to health empowers them to make informed decisions that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Open Communication

Create a safe space where teens and young adults feel comfortable seeking guidance and discussing their concerns. Effective communication builds trust and strengthens relationships.

Peer Support

Encourage positive peer relationships. Healthy friendships can provide a strong support system, influencing one another to make choices that contribute to overall well-being.

Community Programs

Actively participate in community programs that offer a variety of educational and recreational activities, providing opportunities for skill-building and personal growth.

Seek Professional Guidance

If a young person in your life is encountering challenges related to health or substance use, seeking professional guidance is crucial. Mee Memorial is here to provide care and resources to help. Make an appointment with your provider sooner rather than later.

Lead by Example

Demonstrating a personal commitment to health and wellness creates a positive influence that can inspire the younger generation.

Promote Positive Coping Mechanisms

Teach young people healthy ways to cope with stress and challenges. Engaging in fun activities such as sports, arts, or other hobbies can effectively promote mental well-being and reduce the temptation to use harmful substances.

Let us join hands in guiding our youth toward a future free from the harm of substance use and rich with opportunities for growth, success, and fulfillment. As we come together, we can build a healthier, happier, more resilient community where our youth thrive and are empowered to lead us into a brighter, healthier and more hopeful tomorrow.

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CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System

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