Sixteen Years and Going Strong!
Do you love chili that makes your taste buds want to call the fire department? How about super creative outfits, decorated booths, and enough team spirit to fill this valley? Or it could be you’re looking for little bribery or enticement from folks vying for the “Crookedest Team” title?
You can find all this and more at this year’s 16th Annual Chili Cook-Off at the Alex Thomas Plaza Friday evening, a fundraiser for our local Boys and Girls Club.
As it has for the last 16 years, Granite Construction is hosting this fantastic event. Under the leadership of Granite Construction’s Jason Woelbing, employees from the Boys and Girls Club are joined by volunteers from Ukiah Rotary, South Ukiah Rotary, the California Conservation Corps, and Kohl’s Cares organization. With their support, more than 20 local businesses and community groups compete for recognition as the top chili cooks or other fun awards like team spirit or crookedest team. It’s a lot of fun for everyone who participates.
According to Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah executive director, Liz Elmore, this event is one of the club’s biggest fundraisers of the year, and a huge reason why the Boys and Girls Club can provide such fantastic afterschool and summer programs.
The club prides itself on being a safe place to learn and grow, all while having fun. Liz and her team strive 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: 1. On track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, 2. Demonstrates good character and citizenship, and 3. Lives 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.
Today, offering a safe afterschool program is more important than ever. Liz Elmore says that the Boys and Girls Club budget is being stretched more than it ever has. In 2013, 90 kids a day utilized the club’s afterschool program, but that number has grown to almost 170 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. 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 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.
Along with the great staff, I must say that this annual event is only a success because of so many committed people and organizations, like Granite Construction and our local service clubs who donate their time to help.
If you’d like to support our community, we can’t think of more deserving organization than the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah.
And helping couldn’t be simpler. Please come on down to the Chili Cook-off this Friday night; buy an arm band, try some chili, and help support one of Ukiah’s best organizations – our Boys and Girls Club.
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.