On Tuesday, May 11, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) Board of Education honored longtime partner of the school district, Letty Gali, with the “You Are The Advantage” Award. This award recognizes community members, organizations, and employees who embody the District’s four core values of excellence, collaboration, integrity, and innovation.
Letty has distinguished herself as an outstanding individual and community partner through her work as the Director of LOT318, a non-profit organization based out of the La Jolla community of Placentia. Students from the La Jolla community are a part of the PYLUSD family as they attend Rio Vista and Melrose elementary schools as well as Valadez Middle School Academy, and Valencia High School.
Back in 2005, Letty was volunteering in PYLUSD and was introduced to the La Jolla neighborhood in Placentia. The area had a history of a gang presence, and with that, a sense of fear within community members. Letty saw a need and an opportunity to support and, from there, the spirit of LOT318 was born.
Letty thoughtfully continued to invest her time into building relationships in the neighborhood and eventually gained the trust of the community. She offered new experiences to students like serving the homeless in Los Angeles, field trips and other trust-building activities, and later helped them get involved in youth groups and retreats. Students were no longer asking themselves “What gang am I going to join?” but instead were asking, “What college am I going to attend? What career will I go into?” Although the movement started many years earlier, Letty founded LOT318 officially in 2011 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Today, LOT318’s mission is clear under the direction of Letty: They walk alongside their community members and encourage them to value themselves and the resources they have available. Their goal is to afford members of the community opportunities they may have never had, to become a positive influence and force in the world, and to love them in truth.
“Letty and LOT318 support the La Jolla neighborhood in countless ways through community-wide events, educational summer programs, homework club four days a week, college and career support, and even food for homeless or struggling individuals in the community,” Superintendent Dr. James Elsasser shared that evening. “Another one of their signature events is their beloved Thanksgiving Feast, which brings hundreds of individuals together to share a sense of community, gratitude, and a hot meal during a more traditional year.”
New this year, Letty, LOT318, and the City of Placentia will host their “Good Life Celebration” on Memorial Day at their location on Cypress Street. The event will be centered on providing health and wellness opportunities to members of the La Jolla community while providing a “fun fest” for children. The group is still in need of volunteers for this event so those who are interested in helping out may visit their website at www.LOT318.com.
During the recognition, Dr. Elsasser also shared: “We may never know the true scope of how many lives Letty and LOT318 has positively impacted, but we do know this: Letty’s dedicated work of introducing at-risk youth and our students in the La Jolla neighborhood to a new way of living has steered them away from gangs and hopelessness, and for that, we are eternally grateful.”
Letty exemplifies the district’s four core values with an unwavering commitment to excellence, collaboration, integrity, and innovation. The district is thankful for her dedication to our community and is proud to have presented her with the You Are the Advantage Award! Congratulations!