[Noozhawk’s note: This article is one in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation.]
For alumnus Rudy Rodriquez, the United Boys & Girls Club in Carpinteria was a family affair. He and his brothers were members as young boys. Some of them even ended up coaching the club’s football team.
When the Boys & Girls Club-Carpinteria decided to upgrade its Teen Center last February, Rodriquez and his employer, manager Dan Byers of California Electric Supply in Santa Barbara, pitched in. They donated and installed the lights.
But, the Rodriguez family’s voluntarism didn’t start there nor has it stopped there. Rodriquez makes a habit of dropping by the club and fixing or upgrading things.
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Rich Medel, the Carpinteria unit director for more than 39 years, says volunteers like Rodriguez are critical to the functioning of the club. Medel greatly appreciates and even counts on people like Rodriquez who return time and time again to help coach the sports programs, fix whatever needs repair or install things around the club at 4849 Foothill Road.
“A lot of the local parents helped us with the Teen Center,” said Medel.
He credits Jose Trujillo, a parent with two children at the club, with his donation of the beautiful carpeting in the Teen Center.
“Even the teens raised money,” he said. “They raised $500 for the blinds. The kids felt that this was their teen center and it was important for them to do something for it, too.”
Plaques honoring donations and in-kind gifts are found everywhere around the building. Even other nonprofits like the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County partners with the Boys & Girls Club by providing instruction once a month about proper nutrition (complete with a delicious bounty of food). Members of the Carpinteria Lions Club just spruced up some planters outside of the center. And, some years ago, Carpinteria High School arts students painted a mural on the wall of the Arts & Crafts room.
The list goes on and on.
“It takes a village,” said Medel, flashing his warm and appreciative smile.
Individual volunteers and community-based organizations aren’t the only ones pitching in to make the Carpinteria club such a worthy program for the 600 or so students aged 5 through 18 who attend. Significant gifts have come from organizations like the Santa Barbara Foundation, Monroe Foundation, Venoco Foundation, Rotary Club of Carpinteria and the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, the Monroe Foundation has been providing top-level support for many years and is considered one of the Carpinteria club’s key benefactors. The late Margaret “Peggy” Brown, founder of the Monroe Foundation, “liked what she saw, asked what our goals were for the club, and asked what we needed,” said Medel. “Not only did she donate significant gifts, but she also wanted to be involved in the design of the club.”
Brown’s beautiful design “eye,” along with the foundation’s significant support, can be seen just about everywhere in the club, from the child-care center, the ceiling skylights and beams, the Arts & Crafts room, the original resource room, and the design of the flower beds in front of the building.
Spending an afternoon watching the club in action leaves a person confident that the children are being well cared for. The students are transported to the club from their schools so there is no need for parents to worry about after-school transportation. Power Hour — a special hour dedicated to children finishing their homework — occurs Monday through Thursday. Reading Plus, a computer program designed to help advance children’s concentration skills, is housed in a small room for individual attention. Friday is Field Trip day, and the children are transported to fun places like local beaches or the Carpinteria Salt Marsh and Preserve. These programs are led under the watchful eye and direction of children’s program director David Bleecker. It’s a sight to behold, the children’s broad smiles, giggles, and laughter. There wasn’t a somber face in the place.
“This is really a program for the working parent,” said Medel. “The parents come at 5 or 6 o’clock to pick up their kids and they don’t have any worries ... it’s such a positive place for kids.”
Throughout the club, children and teens receive recognition. Photos line the walls, including a prominent bulletin board displaying “Youths of the Month.”
“Each department picks a ‘Youth of the Month,’” said Medel. “We throw everyone’s name in the hat and draw two each month to represent the club. The children go to the Kiwanis Club (of Carpinteria Valley) for a dinner with their family and receive a nice trophy. Their picture is then published in Carpinteria’s newspaper, Coastal View News.”
The Carpinteria’s Boys & Girls Club is a community treasure and a very necessary after-school and summer program for the children it serves. Lovingly guided by Medel, a Carpinterian resident for 65 years, his impressive record as leader, coordinator and visionary of the club has made it a top-notch facility.
“I always say that if we build it, they will come,” he said with a bright smile and a hint of sparkle in his eyes.
The Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club is one of the clubs under an umbrella organization, the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County. Its three other clubhouse locations are Goleta, 5701 Hollister Ave.; Lompoc, 1025 W. Ocean Ave.; and Santa Barbara West, 602 W. Anapamu St., along with the 55-acre Camp Whittier a residential camp located off of Highway 154 near Lake Cachuma.
The mission of the United Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those who need the most help, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.
The United Boys & Girls Clubs is facing a critical funding situation, so critical that Mike Rattray, CEO of the United Boys & Girls Clubs, has issued a 60-day challenge to raise $300,000 to meet the organization’s payroll and program costs. The club’s shortfall was the result of an unanticipated, significant reduction in grant funding this year.
The Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club will be holding its 28th annual fundraising dinner and auction from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at the club, 4849 Foothill Road.
The benefit — dubbed Impact 2012: Making Connections — includes a night of gourmet food, including prime rib and grilled salmon, a hosted bar and great fun! Don’t miss the opportunity to acquire fantastic trips and one-of-a-kind live and silent auction items! A Sony Bravia 40-inch LED-TV with built in WiFi will be raffled off. Gary Goldberg is the honorary chairman of the event, which is co-chaired but Anthony Castillo and Louise Cruz.
Tickets are $75 per person and group table rates are available. Raffle tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20. To donate an item or service, purchase a program advertisement or make a reservation, call the club at 805.684.1568.
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