In the words of world-famous rapper and Miami-born recording artist Pit Bull, who always uses area code 305 in his songs, his hit tune Go Girl might well define the energy behind an effort by Miami Youth for Christ’s executive director Bonnie Rodriguez and her colleague Vivian Stigale.
The pair are heading up a capital fundraising campaign to complete a goal of $305,000 in order to purchase a select building located in Hialeah. Already, generous donors have contributed $650,000 toward the proposed 6,500-square-foot Catalyst Hip Hop Youth Center.
Founded 16 years ago by the late missionary Joel Stigale, Catalyst reaches out to lost youth in the Hip-Hop culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was Mr. Stigale’s dream to one day have a building that Catalyst could call home, allowing a safe place for graffiti artists, deejayers, break dancers and emcees to meet, and where they are encouraged to reach their God-given potential and to use their talents as a positive influence in the world.
Over the years, while meeting in churches, the program took off so well that now additional meeting space is urgently needed.
“We are thrilled to be in this position,” Rodriguez said. “Growth of this ministry simply underscores the chronic need for young people to experience a sense of belonging and authentic relationships, that can only be achieved through the transformative and powerful message of the Gospel.
“Over the years, thousands of young adults between the ages of 16 and 23 have been touched by Catalyst. Former drug addicts are now teaching; leaders are being mentored; lives are being changed.”
Vivian Stigale, widow of Catalyst founder Joel Stigale, who died in 2015 of a rare lung disease, has stepped up to the plate and is working tirelessly to secure permits, zoning variances, legal counsel and funds in order to continue Joel’s legacy and to make his dream of having a youth center come true.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to work toward something so permanent that will only serve to strengthen and improve our community,” Mrs. Stigale said.
Catalyst is one of five programs overseen by Miami Youth for Christ, which was founded in 1948. The other four are City Life KIX Clubs, Campus Life Clubs, Juvenile Justice, and Miami Youth Leadership Initiative (MYLI). Altogether, more than 7,000 youths participate in Youth for Christ programs in 14 locations throughout Miami-Dade. Miami YFC is part of Youth for Christ USA, an international organization, headquartered in Englewood, CO.
For more information on how you can help make this building a reality, call 305-271-2442 or go to the website www.miamiyfc.com. Miami Youth for Christ currently holds a four-star rating by the charity-rating firm Navigators. Miami Youth for Christ has received this rating for the past four years.