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Published: Saturday, 12/30/2006

Quintero center expected to benefit from partnership

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The executive director and longtime supporter of the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center said he expects the center will grow through a newly formed partnership with the YMCA and Jewish Community Center of Greater Toledo.

Joe Balderas said Sofia Quintero, located at 1225 Broadway, will give the YMCA a visible presence among Latinos in South Toledo - and it will help the center to maintain its programs.

"I think this is a win-win for both organizations," Mr. Balderas said. "First, it allows the YMCA to get a foothold into the Latino community without building a facility or anything like that. You have an organization that already has programming and a facility. You just have to support it and make it stronger."

Through the partnership pact, signed in August, the center will receive assistance from the YMCA for support services, fund-raising, and marketing, YMCA officials said. Mr. Balderas also became a member of the South Toledo branch YMCA staff and continued his duties overseeing the center.

Arturo Quintero, a board member with the Sofia Quintero Center, joined the YMCA board of directors as well.

"We are very excited about Sofia Quintero and the YMCA working together to serve the needs of the South Toledo and the Latino community," said Todd Tibbits, YMCA vice president of operations. "A major focus with the Y nationally has been arts and humanities.

"Sofia Quintero winning a Diamante Award this year for its focus on the arts, we thought it was adding a real positive aspect from the arts end of it as well as helping us serve a more diverse population."

Mr. Balderas said the center hopefully will be on better financial footing with the backing of the YMCA. He said the center will be able to provide more programs to the community and those programs will find a wider audience through the YMCA. The center recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Mr. Balderas said the center would not have closed without the partnership, but it would have had to scale back on its programming to the Old South Toledo community. He said he envisions the YMCA partnering in its arts and garden programs and can foresee programs in Latino dancing fitness and music classes.

"We're still at the infancy stage," Mr. Balderas said. "We still need to create more programs. We're a small organization and couldn't go after the $5,000, $10,000 grants that would make a big impact in the community."

Mr. Balderas is also involved in reaching out to the Latino community during the YMCA's scholarship campaign.

He said he will be paid roughly $29,000 and benefits for his work at the center. Mr. Balderas said with his employment by the YMCA, it will free up the center's budget for programs and other needs. He said with the muscle of the YMCA, the center can go after bigger grants as well.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095



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