Harambee Cultural Center opens doors to Arcata Youth

The Harambee Cultural Center opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 24.

Located at 750 16th Street in Arcata, CA, in a building that used to be a tattoo parlor, HCC is a youth-centered cultural center focused on bringing the youth of Arcata together in a shared safe space. The word “Harambee” means “all pull together” in Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya.

With amenities such as a private library, pool tables, a weight lifting area, and a kitchenette, HCC seeks to provide a hangout spot for Arcata’s youth where students can have access to resources that they might not have at home.

Valetta Molofsky is the director of the HC Black Art and Music Association (HCBAMA), the organization that created HCC. She stated that the purpose of the new cultural center, “is to focus on identity, sense of belonging, and to offer a safe space for students experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations and addictions.”

A free computer lab is just one of the many amenities available at HCC. | Photo by Maryanne Casas-Perez

Molofsky explained that the Harambe center is a space open to youth of all cultural backgrounds.

“This particular space is not Black-centered, as many people think it is,” said Molofsky. “[HCC] is a cultural space shared by the community, and the way I like to put it is ‘this is a village for the villagers.’”

The center is funded by a grant from the Sierra Foundation. According to Molofsky, the grant was awarded to HCC to provide youth access to personal safe services, foster leadership, and provide access to resources. HCC focuses on transitional-age youth, which Molofsky recognizes as ages 12 through 26.

Unlike other youth programs in Arcata that might focus on sports, HCC aims to be a place for the youth to come and stay out of trouble.

“[Students] can come in here, sit down, if they need to borrow a computer. They can access our kitchen back there, grab some hot tea and whatever fruit that they want,” said Molofsky.

HCC is free to all, and students are invited to drop in, all Molofsky asks is that they check in with their student IDs and to keep the space clean.

HCC is open from 12pm-6pm Monday through Friday. To learn more about the Harambee Cultural Center, follow @hcc.2024 on Instagram or email Harambeeculturalcenter@gmail.com.

Correction: The story has been corrected from the print edition to fix the HCC director’s name, as well as HC Black Art and Music Association’s name. We regret the error.

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