“The children of Santa Cruz are the foundation on which our future success is built,” said Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant at the Boys and Girls Club’s “Day for Kids” festival. On September 21, 2013 Bryant came out to enjoy the annual, street fun with her own kids who are also members of the club. She hugged her daughter before reaching for the microphone to proclaim that while at the event she hopes for parents to be reminded just how important spending time with their kid’s is to their development.
Bad weather was no match for the citizens of Santa Cruz who still enjoyed popcorn, cotton candy, pizza, live entertainment, a dunk tank and a jumper on the wet afternoon. Although local vendors were forced to take cover under canopies, a little rain couldn’t stop the large number of supporters who came out with umbrellas and jackets. Board member Patty Whitlock explained the turnout as a mixture of club members and other citizens that had probably heard of the event by hearsay.
Boys and Girls Clubs are known for their child advocacy in after school and summer care. The staff is trained to prepare these kids for their future success; they host numerous programs that ensure they are learning the necessary components of beneficial living. Lillian, team coordinator and leader of the “Smart Girls” series, explains the weekly class as an essential for girls 11 to 18 years old. This curriculum, which is taught not only in the Santa Cruz location but nationally as well, teaches everything from women empowerment and self defense to nutrition and understanding healthy relationships.
“Great futures start here,” said Executive Director of Boys and Girls Club, Bob Langseth, with a twinkle in his eye about the children apart of their nonprofit organization. He runs the business by raising the money they need to operate. His passion for the children’s well being is evident in all of his decisions for the company. While other programs will push that kids ‘just say no,’ to the harmful substances and decisions that may endanger them, Langseth sets the Boys and Girls Club apart. “We teach how to say no,” he says. Boys are included in self identity programs as they reach manhood. These classes teach the kids how to be gentleman and the steps to becoming leading members of society.
Eight year old Cesar has been a member of the Boys and Girls Club since the day he turned six and was old enough to join. When asked what his favorite activity at the facilitation was, he said, “I play Roll Blocks. I play Air Hockey. My favorite is Scatterball. I am the champion.” Cesar’s mother, Delmy, heard about the Boys and Girls Club through a friend. She now enrolls her son in both the after school and summer programs while she is at work. “I like everything,” she says, “I like that they have lots of activities and keep improving them. We’ll even get free tickets to an event, [like a Warriors game] so we can go as a family.” Delmy likes the club so much that she plans to keep Cesar there until he is 18.
The true essence of caring and prosperity was indisputable throughout the Boys and Girls Club festival Saturday. From the head directors to the kids and teens themselves, the day was clearly one of celebration for the organization and advancement of it’s members.