Kathy Jean/Patriot Video

From left to right: Resilience Award recipients Daniel Martinez and Jessica Alonzo with emcee and ABC7 General Assignment Reporter Anabel Munoz and Executive Director Tamika Farr, and Empowerment Award recipient Iliana Martinez and Corporate Friendship Award recipient Mark Ozzello

El Centro de Amistad recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary at The Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. The San Fernando Valley mental health agency El Centro de Amistad empowers the lives of more than 800 children, families and individuals annually.

Rich Golisch, El Centro de Amistad’s board vice president, received a service award for serving 20 years as a committed volunteer. Under his leadership, he facilitated a $100,000 grant from United Parcel Service to help the agency purchase its San Fernando office.

“[Golisch] has been pivotal in shaping discussions to cautiously move us forward and expand our services to the Greater San Fernando Valley,” said Irene Smerigan, ECDA board member. 

Two clients who had made significant strides toward achieving personal successes in their mental health treatment received Resilience Awards.

The first recipient was David Martinez, 11, who initially came to the agency due to separation anxiety and a fear of elevators.

The other recipient of the Resilience Award was Jessica Alonzo, who at the age of 14 was referred to El Centro de Amistad by the school due to having challenges at school. Alonzo, now 19, graduated from Pierce College with an associate’s degree and has enrolled in California State University, Northridge in the fall.

Tania Fallert-DelGatto, El Centro de Amistad’s associate director, presented Iliana Martinez, a therapist, with the Empowerment Award. Martinez uses creative tactics in her clinical work with clients, integrating art to engage them and to increase insight and awareness into their symptoms and family origin.

Throughout El Centro de Amistad’s 40 years in the San Fernando community, the agency has served more than 100,000 individuals, providing free mental health services to poor or low-income families. They continue to expand, providing additional services in Canoga Park and Topanga, and assess the needs of the community to not remain stagnate yet deliver on the promise to empower individuals for a better future.

To learn more about the agency, visit www.elcentrodeamistad.org.