Community Stories

Community Built: Luzy Govea’s lifelong journey with CYC

Welcome to our series of staff highlights at Community Youth Center of San Francisco (CYC). In this series, we’ll introduce you to the individuals who are the backbone of our organization, sharing their stories and the vital work they do to support youth in our community. Join us in getting to know these exceptional staff and the significant impact they make in the lives of the community members we serve.

CYC staff member Luzy Govea leading one of the afterschool programs at
Redding Elementary located in the Tenderloin.

Growing up as the middle child of five in the heart of the Tenderloin, Luzy Govea learned early how to navigate the challenges of urban living while staying centered in a warm, tightly-knit community. Despite the struggles her family faced, the Tenderloin was home—a place where familiarity and community made even the toughest moments feel like shared experiences.

Luzy learned early to be appropriately cautious of her surroundings, walking to school alone from the age of 9 and assisting her younger sister. These early lessons in responsibility and caution shaped her later character. “You learn to walk fast and watch where you’re going. But the Tenderloin is a big part of who I am,” she remembers. A large Latino presence in the Tenderloin meant her daily walks often included familiar faces, which at a young age felt both empowering and welcoming.

As a youth, Luzy first joined CYC through our afterschool programs. These programs helped her and her family, while her parents navigated demanding work schedules. Thanks to CYC, Luzy joined various clubs—including culinary and language clubs—and got to be a kid with other kids. The supportive staff made a lifelong impression:  “As a child you really pick up on the energy of the people who care for you. The staff made me feel valued and cared for. To this day, I still feel connected.”

Over time, and as she became an adult, Luzy’s connection would deepen, becoming first an intern and later a program lead, providing the same care she herself had received, and serving as a role model to a new generation of youth leaders. As an Assistant Site Coordinator, she helps oversee the entire program and ensures CYC youth are optimally served and that the program funding is optimally utilized. She credits a lot of her learning to her manager Tina Hepton’s advocacy and support.

Luzy playing soccer in the 4th grade, one of many afterschool activities she enjoyed.

Luzy’s favorite parts of her current job are building connections with families and kids and creating a safe space where they feel comfortable. Her commitment today stems directly from her own experiences as a child in the program. She still has a journal that she kept as a young girl that reminds her that the unique emotions and challenges every kid experiences are worth validating.

Luzy’s story is a poignant reminder that every youth’s journey towards personal success can have a positive and enduring ripple effect on the broader community, and across generations.