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Goleta Boys & Girls Club Dedicates New Playground in Honor of Anne Kennedy Vierra

Club's longtime day care director says it's been 'a privilege to help raise thousands of children'

Anne Kennedy Vierra cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Anne’s Playground named in her honor at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club. Click to view larger
Anne Kennedy Vierra cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Anne’s Playground named in her honor at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

On a blustery Friday afternoon, the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County dedicated a new playground at the Goleta club in honor of Anne Kennedy Vierra, who served as day care director at the club for 37 years.

United Boys & Girls Clubs board member Tony Vallejo presented to Vierra the plaque that will be installed in perpetuity at the state-of-the-art playground now named Anne’s Playground.

Also in attendance were Goleta councilmen Michael Bennett and Roger Aceves, who were instrumental in generating the funds for the $73,000 bright blue and green playground installed by Dave Bang Associates.

“I was a member of the Santa Barbara boys club when I was growing up,” Aceves said. “I still have friends today that I made at the club. I am glad that I and fellow Goleta City Council member Michael Bennett were effective in directing Community Development Block Grant funds for this purpose. We must take care of our children.”

The dedication program was opened by United Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Michael Baker. Then, longtime Executive Director Sal Rodriguez addressed the audience of friends and current and former staffers at the clubs.

“Anne came to my office 37 years ago and said that she wanted a job at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club,” Rodriguez said. “I told her we didn’t have any openings, but she could start a day care program at the club. It broke even the first year and then became very popular and was a big boost to the club financially. Through Anne’s leadership and dedication, we helped many working parents, single parents and generations of children in our after-school and summer camp programs. This honor for Anne is long overdue and well reserved.”

Baker recognized Vierra’s sister, Christine Sherlock, who traveled from New York for the ceremony, as well as Vierra’s daughter, Maggie, and her husband, Michael.

The new playground in action.
The new playground in action. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“It has been a privilege to help raise thousands of children,” Vierra said. “And it’s not just the children. We help the parents and guardians. We embrace the whole family. It’s all about the kids.”

In July 2017, Vierra was appointed center director at Girls Inc. in Goleta. Originally from Upstate New York, she has called the Santa Barbara area home since 1982. With a background in education and psychology, she most served at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club, where she developed its after-school programs. Vierra has a dedicated history of serving youths and young adults and of mentoring staff who work in youth-focused careers.

Also acknowledged in the crowd were former United Boys & Girls Clubs staff, board and community supporters, including Rich Medel (Carpinteria club director for 41 years), Patsy Medel, Dena Hardenman, Karen May, Bob Thompson, Gwen Thompson, Vicki Young, Dean Young, Tammy Grimes, Otto Schleich, Mike Rattray, Jim Crook, Louise Cruz, Anne Dalley, Jan Bailey and many others.

The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County is a nonprofit youth development agency and serves children ages 5 to 18 at nine locations across Santa Barbara County. UBGC is a member of the national organization, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Its mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.” Its programs help youths achieve three priority outcomes: academic success, good character, and citizenship and healthy lifestyles. In 2001, UBGC consolidated as one organization serving communities in Carpinteria, Westside Santa Barbara, Goleta and Lompoc. It also manages Camp Whittier, a 55-acre residential camp in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Click here for more information about the organization, or call Baker at 805.681.1315.

— Rochelle Rose is a Noozhawk contributing writer. 

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