/ Modified feb 24, 2024 8:59 a.m.

SV City Council member and Peach's Pantry create Youth Leadership Fund

The fund is to help youth initaives the community

Sierra Vista Sign
Summer Hom, AZPM

A Sierra Vista Council Member has partnered with 501c3 Peach's Pantry that provides food to students in need — to develop the Peach’s Youth Leadership Fund.

Sierra Vista City Council Member Mark Rodriguez said that the idea for the fund came from seeing other youth commissions participate in the National League of Cities in Washington D.C.

"I went last year to D.C. same time in March and I saw the youth commissions from all over the U.S., and I was just like 'we have to get our youth commission here, we have to get them here, they have to see this, they have to participate.' It's just a once in a lifetime thing."

Rodriguez said the culminating event of National League of Cities conference is they get to go to Capitol Hill and meet their legislators from their states.

The one problem: it costs about $13,000 for four commissioners to attend.

“There’s a lot of good ideas that youth have, they want to do big things and they have big ideas," said Rodriguez. "But they take money, and a very small amount of money is budgeted for any of the commissions … For instance, we had — like — $1,200 dollars for the youth commission to do stuff with ...

"Council did not support me in getting this trip paid for," Rodriguez continued. "Because when it comes down to it, it's using taxpayer money ... The purpose of it is the experience, you know, their minds — just showing them that there's life outside of Sierra Vista. There's so much out there that they can bring to our town, whether they choose to stay here or not throughout their lives. They will be better people for it."

Rodriguez, who is the council's liaison to the youth commission, said he hopes to raise enough money to send the youth commissioners to the National League of Cities in Washington D.C.

Sarah Pacheco, the Executive Director and Founder of Peach’s Pantry, a food backpack program that provides food to students in need across 20 schools in in the area, said anyone can donate to the fund by making a donation to the pantry and earmarking it for the Peach’s Youth Leadership Fund.

"I've had the god fortune to work with lots of youth groups in Sierra Vista since starting Peach's Pantry," said Pacheco. "It's been really fun to work with the youth over the past 10-years. And putting some money behind that is a good place to go. We're helping the youth commission by helping them raise funds in a place where they can apply for grants or funding that can help achieve their goals through a non-profit. But also, we can work with other youth groups as well.

"And my heart is in really trying to grow that spirit of service, which I do believe the youth group — the youth commission does very well — is to foster, you know, a heart for service for our youth and let them see the value of serving their community and coming together as a community and what can happen if we all work together to, you know, to make our surroundings a better place and our city a better place," Pacheco continued.

Both said that the fund isn't just for the youth commission, but is available for other youth initiatives as well.

"All the initiatives will be, they'll be driven by youth, and that's something that we both want is that we want the kids themselves to come up with the ideas and drive where it goes and how it's spent," Pacheco said. "If someone wants to donate to it, they would donate to Peach's Pantry and just earmark Youth Leadership Fund."

She said the fund has raised about $7,000 so far.

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