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Meet Lina Lumme of The Youth Center in Gateway Cities

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lina Lumme.

Lina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Originally I’m from Russia. I got my Master’s Degree in Teaching and Linguistics. I was so excited for my future but my marriage crumbled because of my ex-husband’s addiction. To have a better life for me and my child, I made the decision to leave the Country. I decided to get a one-way ticket to Los Angeles in 2003. When I landed, I had nowhere to go. Los Angeles Pregnancy service guided me to Precious Life Shelter in Los Alamitos. That’s where I stayed for 2.5 years. This is the city I work and live now with my two children and my husband.

I joined The Youth Center in 2005 as an Office Manager. The more I worked in this nonprofit, the more I learned about the power of giving back. Watching just how much we help struggling families and watch them succeed with our help is truly rewarding. That’s when I knew I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to lead this nonprofit, so we can serve even more families and children.

In 2010, I had an opportunity to apply for the CEO position along with 160 other candidates. I was thrilled to be chosen for the position that year! Ten plus years later, I am still here and I’m proud of the amazing things we’ve done in this community for local youth.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There were many bumps in the road. But I overcame homelessness, a juggle of being a single parent, landing a job as an immigrant and finding success. My experience taught me to never give up and follow my dreams. Many people helped me overcome my personal and professional struggles and that’s why I am so passionate about the work I do.

The Youth Center – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Youth Center is the oldest nonprofit in Los Alamitos. We serve children ages 5-18 not just Los Alamitos but Long Beach, Seal Beach and surrounding communities. We provide quality programs for children that keep them safe and teach them how to succeed in life. One of our popular programs is Camp S.H.A.R.K. (Science, Hands-on, Arts, Recreation and Knowledge). It’s an electronic-free camp that offers summer camp activities for 400 families every summer.

Since 1952 we never declined a single scholarship request. It is largely due to the generosity of our community. What sets us apart is that we put kids and their families first. It’s a fact that we have to operate like any other business, but we pride ourselves in putting our mission and families first. We always improve our programming and utilize our partnerships so we can provide more services and support to every family we serve.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is more than an accomplishment for me, it’s the feeling. Success is seeing the difference we make for the families and watch their children thrive. Success is offering quality programs for youth, providing scholarships and not declining any requests, having 5-star reviews, having an involved Board of Directors, staff and volunteers who care about children and love their jobs.


  • $10 – provides a book to a child
  • $25 – provides leadership class to a student
  • $100 – provides holiday gifts to struggling families

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