“Long Beach Martin Luther King Center: Empowering the Youth, Creating Change”

The Long Beach Martin Luther King Center and Andrea Gauto’s Vision

In the heart of Long Beach, New York, stands a beacon of hope and empowerment for the local community. The Long Beach Martin Luther King Center, under the passionate guidance of Andrea Gauto, with help from her trusted counterparts, Chairman Cedric Coad and Mr. Melvin Lewis serves as a vital resource for children, parents, and residents alike. In a recent interview with Trevor Jackson, founder of, Andrea sheds light on the center’s challenges, its significance to the community, and the hurdles faced by the youth in Long Beach. Her words resonate with a sense of urgency, urging stakeholders to come together and support the center’s mission of transforming lives and fostering resilience.

Andrea, the Acting Executive Director of the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center, acknowledges the prevalent issue of addiction and drug-related problems that plague the community. With determination and unwavering commitment, the center aims to raise awareness about these issues and collaborate with city officials to address them effectively. In Andrea’s words, “Our biggest hurdle is there’s a mountain of addiction and issues with drugs we have in the community, we are trying to bring awareness to how it affects the children and the parents. And to put that together and have the city officials help us with that.”

Addressing Community Challenges: Funding and Programs

However, one of their most significant obstacles lies in securing sufficient funding to continue providing their extensive range of programs and resources. Andrea explains, “Funding is a significant challenge for us. As an independent organization serving the low-income part of Long Beach, we are currently facing various funding issues. Despite the extensive range of programs and resources we provide to the community, we are not receiving the full funding support we need. This has resulted in being underfunded and understaffed. Securing adequate funding is crucial to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of our services.”

A crucial question arises: What can give the MLK Center the boost it needs to make an even greater impact? Andrea emphasizes the importance of financial assistance, specifically for mental health resources, expanded programs for children, and support for seniors. She states, “Well, financially, obviously, that will be a big boost of funds – just funds to help us with the mental health issue we have here, and to support more programs for the children and seniors. Additionally, we aim to incorporate the age group between 20s and 40s, and we need one big donor or a significant contributor who can help us implement more mental health resources. We require professional expertise and financial support. If we don’t have anyone willing to donate their time and professional experience, we need someone to help us cover the costs of bringing professionals to assist the community.”

For over four decades, the Martin Luther King Center has served as a safe haven for the people of Long Beach. Andrea passionately describes the center’s pivotal role as a sanctuary that keeps youth away from the streets and out of trouble. She shares, “The Martin Luther King Center has been here for over 40 years, making it an incredibly important place for generations of people who have grown up and regularly visited the center. The consistent sentiment I hear is that it has been a safe haven, keeping individuals off the streets, out of trouble, and providing them with food. Even during challenging times like Hurricane Sandy, it served as a place to find shelter and rest. The community has always regarded it as a safe haven, a comfortable space where people feel at ease.”

Empowering the Youth: Overcoming Divisions and Inspiring Dreams

Undoubtedly, the youth in Long Beach face significant hurdles as they navigate their formative years. Andrea highlights the impact of economic divisions and the absence of hope among many young individuals. She states, “The biggest hurdle for the youth here in Long Beach is the division that exists within the community. On one hand, you have residents living by the beach, occupying expensive houses with stunning sea views. On the other hand, there is the low-income area, known as North Park. This stark division creates a significant struggle for the youth, not only in terms of their economic circumstances but also in terms of their outlook on life. I observe a sense of hopelessness among many of them, as if they believe that no matter what they do, their situation will never change. It’s difficult to put into words, but it’s a lack of hope, a lack of belief that things can improve. Many of these young individuals don’t harbor dreams or aspirations of becoming professionals or pursuing specific goals.”

Driven by her passion for psychology and her desire to make a positive change, Andrea found her calling in serving the Long Beach community through the MLK Center. Her initial intention to engage in community service grew into a profound commitment as she embraced multiple roles within the organization. Andrea’s invaluable contributions have made a significant impact on the center’s operations, administration, and most importantly, the lives of the children and families they serve.

As we delve deeper into the story of the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center, it becomes evident that this community pillar needs support, both financial and collaborative, to continue fostering growth and empowerment. The challenges it faces can be overcome through the collective efforts of stakeholders, donors, and compassionate individuals who understand the power of investing in the youth.

Building a Better Future: Investing in Trades and Career Options

Andrea Gauto’s vision for the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center extends beyond providing basic needs and support. She recognizes the importance of introducing trade skills to the youth, offering alternative pathways to success. Andrea passionately states, “We need to introduce trades to our youth. It’s crucial for those who aren’t interested in pursuing college education to realize that working with their hands can lead to lucrative six-figure salaries. We have a wealth of talented artists in our community, and it’s essential to invest in their unique abilities. We must move away from the notion that everyone is the same and instead recognize and appreciate each individual’s distinct talents. There is immense untapped potential here that often goes unnoticed or underestimated.”

To make these career options accessible, Andrea envisions partnerships and collaborations that bring free programs and education to the youth of Long Beach. She emphasizes the need to address transportation and financial barriers that prevent young individuals from accessing opportunities outside their community. Andrea says, “It’s challenging for our youth to travel and access the various free programs and educational opportunities available in other areas. We must consider these seemingly insignificant factors that we often overlook but are significant roadblocks in the lives of these kids. We need to provide assistance for traveling expenses and food, prioritizing their safety and making these opportunities more accessible to them.”

Looking towards the future, Andrea envisions a transformed Martin Luther King Center that offers comprehensive support for the community. She hopes to see the children and parents feel safe, with their basic needs met and opportunities for academic and mental health support. Andrea expresses her desire for the center to be more than just a community center but a place where individuals can find tools for a happy and successful life. She states, “I want this place to be more than just a community center where you can come and fulfill your basic needs. I envision it as a space where your academic and mental health needs are met. I hope to witness its growth and witness the joy of people who come here. I want them to take pride in being part of this community.”

Collaborative Efforts: Strengthening the MLK Center’s Impact

In order for the MLK Center and other nonprofits in Long Island and Long Beach to thrive, Andrea highlights the importance of collaborative efforts, streamlined processes, and genuine engagement from city officials and elected representatives. She believes that by actively immersing themselves in the community and attentively listening to the concerns of the children and families, a deeper understanding of the center’s significance can be achieved. Andrea expresses the need for greater awareness, not only regarding affordable housing but also the pressing mental health issues and essential resources required by parents to maintain healthy lives. She suggests that the city can enhance their involvement and establish meaningful dialogues with residents to make well-informed decisions that directly impact their well-being.


The Long Beach Martin Luther King Center stands as a beacon of hope, resilience, and opportunity for the underserved communities of Long Beach. Andrea Gauto, with her unwavering dedication and passion, advocates for change and transformation within the community. By addressing the hurdles faced by the youth, emphasizing the importance of trade skills, and calling for genuine collaboration from city officials, Andrea envisions a future where the MLK Center becomes a thriving hub of support, nurturing the dreams and aspirations of every individual it serves.

As we reflect on Andrea’s words, we are reminded of the power of community, compassion, and the urgent need for resources to uplift and empower those who need it most. Let us come together as a community, as stakeholders, and as compassionate individuals to support the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center in their mission to create a brighter future for the children and families of Long Beach.

Four key takeaways from the article are:

  1. The MLK Center in Long Beach plays a pivotal role in providing a safe haven and essential support for the community, particularly for underserved youth and their families.
  2. Funding and resources are major challenges for the MLK Center, hindering its ability to offer comprehensive programs and services to meet the community’s needs.
  3. Introducing trade skills and alternative career pathways can empower youth who may not be interested in traditional higher education, providing them with tangible options for success.
  4. Genuine involvement, collaboration, and understanding from city officials and elected representatives are crucial for supporting the MLK Center and addressing the pressing issues faced by the community.
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