Save Our Youth loses executive director

Save Our Youth has laid off its executive director amid recent financial hardship, officials said.

Eliminating Trevor Murphy's position is one of several ways the Costa Mesa-based nonprofit has scaled back its expenses after a major donor withdrew his support last year.

Other belt-tightening measures for the organization that helps Westside youth have included cutting other employee positions, trips to college campuses and hiking Mt. Whitney. Monthly paychecks for good grades were also a casualty, although students still receive scholarships when they graduate, according to Mary Cappellini, a SOY board member and fundraising coordinator.

No students dropped out after learning there wouldn't be monthly paychecks for high marks in school last year, she said.

Murphy said he left SOY on Aug. 1 after nine years with the program, which will operate mainly with volunteer support.

"The hardest part is just not being there for the youth in the capacity I was," he said.

Although he is no longer affiliated with SOY in an official capacity, Murphy said he is still in contact with many of the students. He helps them with paperwork and class selection, and answers questions about colleges.

Recently, several students sought help in applying for a new federal immigration plan known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives undocumented people younger than 31 a way of getting a Social Security number and applying for a driver's license, among other benefits.

"I've been helping quite a few of them with their paperwork," Murphy said.

With the position gone, board members are also taking a more active role in the organization, Cappellini said.

"SOY is still running full speed," she said, adding that the center is looking for volunteers for arts, music and fitness classes.

Cappellini said anyone interested in volunteering can call Silvia Rosales at (949) 548-8501.

SOY started in 1993 as the collective effort of Westside Latino parents after growing concerns over increased gang violence in the area. Initially, the organization acted as an alternative to the streets, providing a boxing ring and athletic equipment. Later, it developed into an academic center as well.

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