Club goal is to serve more families

Since 1991, the Paso Robles chapter of the Boys & Girls Club has delivered on the mission to enable young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Paso Robles Boys and Girls Club

Kids from the Paso Robles Boys and Girls Club sit for a picture.

Offering low-cost participation fees for local youth, the program is largely funded through local giving and the 17th annual Champion of Youth charity dinner and auction offers opportunity for new donors to learn more about how the program impacts the community in the North County.

In late 2014, longtime board member Kate Morgans took the position of CEO, and with strong support from MUST! Charities and others, the North San Luis Obispo County chapter has grown and so has the need for program services in both Atascadero and Paso Robles.

“We continue to be booked solid,” Morgans said. “We enrolled 150 (in Paso Robles) and have a wait list of about 80 kids. We are trying to identify some other possible locations where we can serve more kids. It could be somewhere we could host a middle school program, or something on the east side to serve families on that side of town.”

Atascadero has been home to a growing program since the summer of 2014, and with a three-year financial partnership between MUST! and the Atascadero Kiwanis Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner, the club is now looking for a permanent home for the Atascadero chapter.

“We had our fourth year of summer camp in Atascadero,” Morgans said. “We were very successful with 155 kids enrolled. Shout out to Atascadero Kiwanis and MUST! Charities, who made a three-year commitment. There is no way we could do the after school program without them.”

This year’s Champions of Youth dinner will be held at SpringHill Suites Marriott in Atascadero and will honor JED Nicholson, a Paso Robles attorney and key contributor for nearly a decade. The 2016 honoree was Rob Covarrubias of Paso Robles.

“It is the only fundraiser we do for the entire year,” Morgans said of the event. “We don’t do a lot of fundraising, although many organizations fundraise for us during the year. The dinner counts for 15 to 20 percent of our annual revenue.”

“We received a $40,000 3-year grant for our Smart Girls program, which we coupled with a mentoring program” Morgans said. “The Women’s Legacy Fund recognized our program because there is a high rate of depression in middle school. We equip them with tools and resiliency.”

The outcome-driven focus of the club has three distinct points of emphasis — academic success, character development and good citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. With programs —like Summer Brain Gain, Smart Girls, and Passport to Manhood — developed by leading youth development experts, the club is a valuable resource in the community.

The North SLO County chapter continues to receive awards for attendance, and several kids were recently recognized for 1,000 days of attendance. The kids grow up in the program and stay through middle school.

“We have a lot of programs for middle school kids,” Morgans said. “One of the programs the middle school kids really love is called the Torch Club. The kids go out in the community and track the hours they give to the community. They get a lot of pleasure in giving back.”

The B&G Club continues to be one of the most affordable outlets for after school services, with a cost of $20 per academic year. The true cost per child runs about $1,500 in the program.

“The after school program only costs $20 per school,” Morgans said. “We want anyone who needs the programs to have access, regardless of financial circumstances.”

The 17th annual Champions of Youth charity dinner and auction will bring 200 community supporters together for an evening of socializing, music, food, dancing, and fundraising to ensure that more boys and girls in need will get access to the program.

The event will feature a 4-point dinner with wine pairing, live and silent auctions, and other FUNdraising party games.

“We are looking at using technology to make bidding and giving more fun and convenient for our guests,” Morgans said.

Live music will be played by Funky James and the Burning Flames after the dinner at what is expected to be a sold-out event.

“Our goal is to serve more kids,” Morgans said. “Between Paso Robles and Atascadero, there is about 4,000 kids who could use our programs. We are trying to accommodate and serve more families.”

Contact Karen Mathieson, Resource Development Coordinator at karen@bgcslocounty.org, or go to the website at bgcslocounty.org/champions-of-youth for more information.