A Favorite Place
In many ways, Teresa is a typical third grade student. If you ask her what she likes best, she’ll say hanging out with her friends on the playground. But, until recently, when it came to doing her homework, Teresa struggled more than most. So much so that she was in danger of not completing enough work to pass the third grade.
And Teresa not passing the third grade really worried her mother, Jessica.
Jessica is a caring, devoted, and very busy mom. In addition to 8-year-old Teresa, Jessica cares for her two other children (a 7-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son). She also works at a job that doesn’t end until 6:00 pm each night, and she manages the household alone until her husband gets home even later than she does each evening. Finding the time every night to take care of all her responsibilities and fight with Teresa about doing homework was becoming increasingly difficult.
For help, Jessica turned to Liz Elmore, Executive Director of the Ukiah Boys and Girls Club.
Teresa is one of the 150 school kids who participates in the after-school programs at the Boys and Girls Club. Because Teresa has so much fun and feels so comfortable at the Boys and Girls Club, Jessica hoped Liz and her staff might be able to help.
Liz and her staff were definitely up to the task. Liz brought in staff member, Alyssa, and they immediately began working with Jessica and Teresa. Together, they discovered what was preventing Teresa from doing her homework assignments, and they developed a plan to help.
The biggest obstacle preventing Teresa from doing her homework turned out to be an all too common problem. Teresa simply needed some support: a coach, a mentor, a person willing to listen, a person willing to nudge her in the right direction. In short, she needed a Boys and Girls Club staff member like Alyssa.
Because of Alyssa’s mentoring, Teresa now understands that she is accountable for her own homework. With encouragement from Alyssa, Teresa takes time to complete her homework each day.
“Teresa loves the Boys and Girls Club. She loves to have fun, hangout with her friends, and play on the playground.” Jessica said, “All it took for her to become successful with her homework was communication with the Boys and Girls club staff. I am so thankful we were able to find a solution so Teresa could succeed.”
And that’s the outcome you can expect with the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah. The club prides itself on being a safe place to learn and grow, all while having fun. Liz and her team’s vision is to provide a world-class experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters their doors.
They work hard to ensure that every kid is on a track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrate good character and citizenship, and live a healthy lifestyle.
As you might imagine, funding an operation like this can’t be done entirely through the small membership fees. Not by a long shot. Top-notch staff and excellent facilities require additional funds.
Each spring, to help collect those funds, the Ukiah Daily Journal and local business, Retech, team up to raise money. The Journal generously sponsors a Ukiah Boys and Girls Club Fund Drive, and Retech generously offers up to $50,000 in matching funds, so that every dollar contributed to the Boys and Girls Club is actually two dollars.
Ukiah Daily Journal editor KC Meadows says, “We have taken on this fund drive each spring because the Boys and Girls Club in Ukiah is one of the best places we know where our local kids can go to have fun, be safe, be mentored, and spend time with kids their own age.”
Today, funding for a safe afterschool program is more important than ever. Executive Director Liz Elmore says that the Boys and Girls Club budget is being stretched more than it ever has been. In 2013, 90 kids a day utilized the club’s afterschool program, but that number has grown to more than 150 kids a day. In fact, Liz says, the club now has more than 650 registered club members.
It only costs $30 dollars for the whole year to become a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah. This membership covers the cost of participating for the school year and the summer program. That’s an entire year of afterschool supervision, mentoring, homework assistance, and daylong supervision during the summer.
As Liz proudly says, “We never turn away a child.” If someone can’t afford the $30 dollars, the club will develop a payment plan, so that every student can participate.
The Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah enjoys great success because of its committed staff members who watch over and guide the kids. In addition to Liz, the champions who keep our kids safe and engaged include Bookkeeper Susan Kalantarian, Receptionist Debrielle Ingram, Teen Director Edith Wise-Andrews, and the fantastic and committed program staff of Ava, Jessye, Sabrina, Jamie, Saraya, Tony, John, and Alyssa.
KC Meadows said, “Many of these children would be ‘latch key kids,’ spending time alone at home or worse, wandering the streets with nothing to do if the Boys and Girls Club did not exist. Because being a Boys and Girls Club member is affordable for all children, the club depends on local community contributions to help it keep its doors open.”
Teresa’s mother, Jessica, said that she doesn’t know what she’d do without the Boys and Girls Club. The low membership rates are essential to keeping her kids supervised each day while she and her husband are at work. “But just because it costs less doesn’t mean that the club doesn’t have high expectations – they do have high expectations, and they work to ensure the success of every student, even Teresa. That’s why this funding is so important.”
If you’d like to help our community, we can’t think of more deserving organization than the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah. Their work truly makes our community a safer place.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.