The eighth annual Chumash Charity Golf Classic will tee off Aug. 16 at the Alisal River Course in Santa Ynez, and, for the first time in its history, all proceeds from the tournament will go to one organization — the Westside Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara.

Since its inaugural event in 2004, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ annual golf tournament has raised more than $650,000 for local charities and nonprofits. Last year, the event raised $90,000, and the tribe split the proceeds among three community organizations.

This year, the sole beneficiary will be the Westside Boys & Girls Club, which has faced serious budget concerns and has struggled to keep its doors open for the hundreds of local children it serves daily in a volatile neighborhood associated with gang activity.

“Each year, we look to recognize an organization that shares our tribe’s level of commitment to the community,” tribal chairman Vincent Armenta said. “The Westside Boys & Girls Club in Santa Barbara is a vital resource for the hundreds of children it serves, and it also faces a substantial financial burden. We hope the proceeds from this year’s Chumash Charity Golf Classic will help the club continue to provide a safe and positive environment for young people in the area.”

The United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, which oversees Westside and four other clubs, shared its dire financial woes earlier this year, suggesting cuts to program funding and employee payroll that would devastate the Westside club, which already faces its own budget deficit.

Giving all the proceeds of the golf tournament to the Westside Boys & Girls Club helps the tribe provide a significant contribution to an important community organization, but it also serves as an opportunity to spotlight the hard work of club director Madga Arroyo and the need for a stable and healthy environment in the troubled neighborhood.

“The weight of the battle gets so heavy, and sometimes I think it’s a little more than I can handle,” said Arroyo, who is in her third year as the club’s director. “That’s how I was feeling until I got the call from the Chumash about this charity golf tournament. When they told me, I cried. I thought, ‘Wow, someone is listening.’ It makes you feel better and gives you the power to keep going.”

Arroyo left a long, lucrative career in banking three years ago to become the director of the club that served her friends and family when she grew up on Santa Barbara’s Westside. It’s an area associated with gang activity, but the single mother of three children and her staff of volunteers have worked hard to provide group activities, innovative programs, field trips and a safe environment for the 200 children who visit the club daily.

“United Santa Barbara helps us survive, but it’s up to us to find ways to flourish,” Arroyo said. “Knowing we can keep providing the services we offer is a big deal, but a gift like this helps us think about how we can take this club to the next level. I want to find a way to honor the tribe for their help. Maybe the best way to do that is to show them the lives that they’re changing. These kids are amazing.”

For more information on entering a foursome into the Chumash Charity Golf Classic or sponsoring a tee, call foundation administrator Veronica Sandoval at 805.686.3856.

Through its foundation, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated more than $16 million to hundreds of groups, organizations and schools in the community and across the nation as part of the Chumash’s long-standing tradition of giving. Click here to find out more about the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation and its giving programs.

— Mike Traphagen is a public relations specialist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.