Destiny Community Center
Ashley Hoohuli and Carly Gonzalez
This month, 2,000 area students will head back to school sporting new backpacks stuffed with supplies. The packs are being distributed by Rocklin’s Destiny Community Center on August 5 at a “Backpack Giveaway”—complete with games, prizes, a barbecue and free haircuts—at Johnson-Springview Park. Without the backpacks, some of these children would have no school supplies. The giveaway is one of Destiny’s signature events, at the core of its “Love Our City” brand whose mission is Love our kids. Love our families. Love our schools. Love our country. “If we can get the family healthy, we can impact the broader community,” says Marketing Director Michelle Coleman. “It moves from the person, to the family, to the community.”
Recently, at the center’s coffee shop, Coleman and Community Development Director Scott Bryditzki shared Destiny’s story. The 64,000-square-foot space (formerly a Walmart) was strikingly remodeled to have a lean, industrial, almost whimsical interior. Since opening in 2015 and breaking from its founder, Destiny Church, the nonreligious nonprofit has partnered with schools and the community to facilitate more than 300 events that serve the needs of families at every age, free of charge.
Inside the center, kids and teens can hang out or get homework help in their own cool spaces, while caregivers can take classes—such as ESL, parenting and job training—and even work out in a small gym ($15 per month). Ashley Hoohuli, mother of three, has taken every parenting class. “What I’ve learned has made our household happier,” she says. “Now I don’t do everything for my kids. I allow them to learn while they have me as a safety net.” The center also houses the Destiny Performing Arts Academy, which will hold auditions next month for Beauty and the Beast, to be performed on the center’s stage.
As a sampling of its community outreach, the center adopts Title I schools and refurbishes them and nearby homes. In June, at its Celebrate America event to honor the country and military, they gave two small houses to homeless vets. Later this year, at their annual holiday Bike and Toy Giveaway at the Golden 1 Center, Kings players will help hand out brand new bicycles (each one customized based on information teachers provide and built by volunteers from 38 organizations) and helmets to 4,000 kids from Title I schools. Coleman is quick to point out that event volunteers are always needed.
“We want to empower organizations to step up,” Coleman says. “Everything we do is to give hope to families.” One element of that hope, says Bryditzki, is the concept of “pay it forward…what we’re trying to accomplish, and succeeding [in doing so], is to transform families to want to give back to their community. Eventually, they’ll be the ones building the bikes.”