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United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County Hosts Alumni Kick-Off Meeting

United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County CEO Michael Baker (right) with a UBGC alumnus at the organization’s Alumni Association Kick-Off Meeting.
United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County CEO Michael Baker (right) with a UBGC alumnus at the organization’s Alumni Association Kick-Off Meeting. (UBGC photo)

The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County hosted its first Alumni Association Kick-Off Meeting Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, at the Goleta Unit. The meeting began with introductions from the alumni as they shared favorite stories from time spent at the Clubs.

Chad Brooks, Club member since 1987, shared his favorite memory of winning the All Star Basketball Game in San Diego, during which he made the winning shot with the help of Sal Rodriguez, who brainstormed the final play.

Greg Hanson, who joined UBGC in 1967, discussed his pleasure of being a board member and being able to participate at the Clubs’s food banks on Saturdays, which he described as a “rewarding experience.”

Erica Salda, 1986 alumna, explained her fondness of past Club events, describing them as the “golden, great years,” and expressed her excitement to plan similar events in the future.

Brought together for this initial meeting, past Club members and supporters were able to reconnect with the Clubs to reunite with childhood friends, share their passions and memories and discuss what they hope to achieve by coming together as an association.

With over 40 alumni in attendance, the room was filled with positive energy as members who had joined as early as 1955 through 1990 were reunited through their shared passion for UBGC.

Sal Rodriguez, Club member since 1955, opened the night with a toast to thank George Chelini, who was also in attendance at the meeting. Recognized as the “Godfather of Goleta,” Chelini has had a dominant and critical presence in the creation and development of UBGC since the beginning.

As the second CEO for UBGC, Chelini was and continues to be an extremely influential figure for the Clubs. His impact on UBGC was undeniable as the room joined together to make a toast in his honor.

Michael Baker, current CEO, took the floor to share his excitement for the growth and progress of the UBGC. He explained the great effort being put into outreach and in “finding these kids who need our service the most.”

In addition, he explained the important role alumni have in advancing the Clubs further and reaching more kids. The members of the meeting immediately recognized their role as advocates and shared ideas for events, fundraisers and opportunities to volunteer.

Laddie Handelman, a Boys & Girls Club Alumna from the Bronx, N.Y., reiterated Michael’s sentiment by stating, “All of us have to join in to pay it back.”

Joining together to “pay it back” is exactly what the Alumni Association encourages members to do. By engaging the alumni back to the Clubs, they have an opportunity to share their talents with the current Club kids as well as an opportunity to encourage others to witness the positive impact being made on the youth today.

To get involved with the Alumni Association, join its next meeting April 20, 2016, at the Goleta Unit, which is located at 5701 Hollister Avenue, at 6 p.m.

For more information, contact Kristi Newton, vice president of advancement at [email protected] or 805.681.1315.

Carla Lael is the director of administrative services for the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County.

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