Merry Memories Creates Holiday Magic for Families in the Dove Springs Community

December 16th, 2010 by Mona

River City Youth Foundation would like to extend a big thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who came out and participated at our 13th Annual Merry Memories Holiday this past weekend.

Hours before the first families began arriving, the Dove Springs Recreation Center was buzzing with holiday cheer. Over 100 high school students, college students, and community leaders arrived to put some holiday touches on the venue. By the time they finished, the recreation center had been transformed into a holiday wonderland with paper snowmen, Christmas trees, elves, a magician, and the man in the red suit himself.

Decorations inside the gym

More than 200 volunteers helped make dreams come true for thousands of underserved children in the Dove Springs community. Goodie bags with hot dogs and cookies were distributed to families as they waited patiently for their turn to walk through the Toy Depot where Santa’s helpers were lined up to give each child a toy.

Merry Memories Volunteers
Merry Memories Volunteers

The excitement of the holidays continued outside as families listened to holiday music, worked on crafts, and enjoyed the crisp weather. However, the true sprit of the season became most obvious when 15-year-old Eric Reyes came on stage to claim the bike he won in the toy raffle. To everyone’s amazement, Eric picked the smallest bike available. When asked why he did this, Eric told raffle organizers that he had promised his little brother that if he won, he’d get a bike for him. If you want to read more about Eric and his generosity, get all the details in the Austin American-Statesman article here.

Eric and his winning ticket.
Eric and his winning ticket

Thousands of children were shown the gift of sharing and caring at Merry Memories. And this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of numerous supporters. We want to thank some of you personally, including New York Life, City of Austin, Austin Firefighters, APD’s Amigos en Azul, MWM Design, Dell Computer, Kiwanis Club of Austin, Key Clubs of Akins and Crockett High Schools, Tony Martinez and his group, Danny Forbes, Elizabeth Gonzales, and many others.


If reading this post has put you in a festive mood, we encourage you to contact River City Youth Foundation and find out what you can do this holiday season. We are still looking for people to adopt a family for the season. If you want to help Santa this year, please contact us at Thank you for all your support. Have a blessed and safe holiday!

Posted in Blog | No Comments »

13th Annual Merry Memories Call for Volunteers

October 21st, 2010 by Mona

RCYF MerryMemories Logo_13

Date: December 11th, 2010

Time: 12 to 3 p.m.

River City Youth Foundation is putting out a call for volunteers for this year’s 13th annual Merry Memories holiday event. Donate toys, organize a toy drive, or come and help out at the event. If you would like more information on what you can do to help, email us at

This event is the second largest toy drive in all of Austin and will benefit thousands of local children living in the Dove Springs area.

Also, don’t forget to check out the RCYF Holiday Cards. These cards were designed by RCYF children and will be a festive touch when wishing family and friends season’s greetings.

The holidays are going to be here before we know it. It’s never too early to start thinking about what you can do to give back to your community.

Posted in Blog | No Comments »


October 5th, 2010 by Mona

October 8th, 2010


Come join us at Forest Creek Golf Course for the 15th annual Golf Tournament and be a part of River City Youth’s largest annual benefit .

Registration forms are available online.


Sponsor a golf team to support River City Youth Foundation’s programs and activities.


All members of the River City Youth Community.


FRIDAY, October 8th, 2010.

12:00 PM Registration

1:00 PM Shotgun Start

5:30PM Dinner


18 hole, 4-person team scramble, shotgun start.


For more than 25 years, River City Youth Foundation has been helping children and families thrive. The award-winning youth and technology center is based in southeast Austin’s Dove Springs community. It is a First Place National Keep America Beautiful Awardee whose programs have been modeled nationally and globally.

Learn more about RCYF at


Oné Musel-Gilley

(pronounced onay)

PR Chair, River City Youth Foundation

(512) 576-0219

Posted in Blog | No Comments »


June 4th, 2010 by Mona

A celebration of Father’s Day is happening a little early this year!

Dads and their kids are coming together at River City Youth Foundation this Saturday to

walk a parade, twist like a dragon, hurl pinto beans, and spit watermelon seeds – all in an effort

to underscore the message of how important it is for dads to take time out for their kids so

they achieve success in school and life.




 Fathers Event-Group Dads Kid Essay Winners


This Saturday at the 10th Annual Father’s Parade & Fiesta at River City Youth Foundation,

dads and children join together to celebrate the role that father figures

play in a child’s academic and social well-being.

At the event, a variety of creative learning games have been designed to reinforce the bonds

between men and their children, such as a Flying Pinto Game,

a Dragon Game, a watermelon seed spitting contest, and more.

The event is Austin’s exclusive father event for the community and takes place

two weekends before Father’s Day.



To encourage fathers to spend more time with their children in school and at home.

To engage the strengths of fathers in helping to shape their communities and to

foster student learning and social and academic development.



Local schools, churches, organizations, and companies have united for this

father celebration. Sponsors include Fathers Active in Communities & Education, New York Life,.

Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department, Capital Area Food Bank,

six area churches,and many others.



SATURDAY, June 5, 2010 11:30 am-3 pm (2 weekends before Father’s Day)

11:30 a.m. Father’s Street Parade starts at Mendez Middle School

12 p.m. Parade arrives at River City Youth Foundation and celebration begins

2 p.m. Students winning essays read, dads crowned, and awards ceremony. 



Activities will include:

–  Father’s Parade w/ Dads, Schools, Churches, Groups

–  Student Father’s Day Essay Contest  

–  Father-Student Bonding and Learning Games



For more than 25 years, River City Youth Foundation has been helping children and families

thrive. The award-winning youth and technology center is based in southeast

Austin’s Dove Springs community. It is a First Place National Keep America Beautiful

Awardee whose programs have been modeled nationally and globally.

Learn more about RCYF at



Oné Musel-Gilley

(pronounced onay)

PR Chair, River City Youth Foundation

(512) 576-0219

Posted in Blog | No Comments »

RCYF to Honor Holiday Card Contest Winners at Merry Memories

November 23rd, 2009 by Mona

Just around the corner is our annual Merry Memories event!  Join us Dec. 12th at River City Youth Foundation to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones and the community.  This year in addition to food/entertainment and the traditional toy give away, we our honoring the top five holiday card contest winners from our first ever holiday card contest.

For the past several weeks, River City Youth Foundation has been working fervently to produce and promote a unique product for the upcoming holiday season– a package of holiday cards created by the children of southeast Austin.  While there was a lot of great artwork produced, a panel of judges picked the top five winners.  The children had fun while using their creativity to create a card expressing their favorite holiday memory.  Each card is outstanding in its own way.  Within the set, each joyful holiday card contains a brief explanation of  the inspiration behind the card.  Not only is each card a unique and one-of-a-kind piece of art, the cards are printed on recycled paper.

Click here to finish your holiday card shopping while  donating  to a great cause.

Winner, Ronaldo, who is only 7 years old produced the below artwork.  His is a more whimsical, magical piece capturing the joy of Christmas.  Entitled “Santa’s Secret Wish”, the inspiration behind the card is a story of how Santa looks up into the winter sky, sees snowflakes falling and wishes to make a snowball.  However, Santa realizing that it is Christmas Eve, knows that he has to go back to “work.”  No one can deny the magic that Ronaldo put into the card, but also, knowing that the inspiration comes from Santa’s obligation to bring joy to the world brings even more depth to the concept. 

Click here to see Ronaldo’s card and place your order today for a set of cards. With each purchase, you are helping to produce a new generation of workforce, technology, and education leaders  for our community.

On the inside: Hoping your holiday wishes come true this year.

On the inside: Hoping your holiday wishes come true this year. Ronaldo’s card captures the magic of the holidays, as Santa looks up in the sky and sees snowflakes falling. The story continues as Santa wants to take a break to make a snowball, but then he remembers that it is Christmas and he has to go back to work.

Posted in Blog | No Comments »

Family Thanksgiving Circle and Celebration

October 29th, 2009 by Mona

Title: Family Thanksgiving Circle and Celebration
Location: River City Youth Foundation
Description: Join us to give thanks and share a meal together! There will be food, fun, music and community!
Start Time: 15:00
Date: 2009-11-23
End Time: 20:00

Posted in Blog | No Comments »

Strong Women In Leadership

October 16th, 2009 by Mona

Strong female leadership has paved the way for many to follow in their footsteps. A good leader not only serves as an example, but helps uplift others to succeed to their full potential.

“River City Youth Foundation helped me be where I am today because it helped my self confidence. It showed me that we can – as Hispanics, as females – do more for our community,” said Liz Garcia, a member of the RCYF community since it’s inception in 1983.

“I had people to look up to that had college degrees. They showed me there are better things out there than just sitting down and not doing anything,” she continued. “Work with the community, work with going back to school, which I did 12 years after high school. I knew I could do it. You build your self confidence when you see other people get out of the same situation you were in.”

Liz is one of the many people RCYF has helped in its mission to serve under privileged youth in the Dove Springs neighborhood of east Austin. The agency has prospered over the last 25 years under the direction of its founder and leader, Mona Gonzalez.

Recently, city leaders and other members of the community, including Liz, thanked Mona for her contribution to the Austin community. And Mona was quick to answer back. Watch the inspiring video below:

The video was created as part of the 25th anniversary of the foundation, which celebrates youth and community building. Through those interviews, we also had a wonderful opportunity to sit down with Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, another strong female leader.

“I’m proud to call Austin my home, and I’m proud that there are organizations that do really care and take great care of the community,” she said.

Rhoda also spoke about RCYF’s positive impact by engaging the community. Click on the play button to watch the interview:

She also encouraged youth to always pursue their passions. Click on the play button to watch her interview in the video below.

To read more about Rhoda’s impact on Austin and to read an in-depth profile by Wells Dunbar of the Austin Chronicle, click here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 1 Comment »

Thoughts On The Future

October 14th, 2009 by Mona

rcyfsilvera0909_045Viviana Martinez, 13, has been coming to the the River City Youth Foundation for the last five years. For our 25th anniversary celebration, Viviana was asked to say a few words on the agency’s impact on her life, and her hopes for her future and the future of her community. Click here to see more photos from the event.

viviana speech

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | No Comments »

River City Youth Foundation Informational Video

October 11th, 2009 by Mona

Posted in Blog | 1 Comment »

Newer Entries »