Ukiah Boys and Girls Club – Keeping Kids Safe
Last week I reported about a number of close calls we have had regarding child safety.
A Pomolita Middle School student was approached by a stranger and asked if she wanted a ride. Thankfully, this student did absolutely everything right! When first asked if she wanted a ride, she said, “NO!” When the suspect came back and asked again, she yelled, “YOU’RE SCARING ME. GET AWAY.”
In an incident last November, a potential kidnapper approached a 7-year-old Yokayo Elementary School student as she walked home. The suspect asked the girl if she wanted to go to the store, and she replied, “NO!” The suspect then grabbed the 7-year-old’s hand, and she courageously kicked the suspect in the foot.
Last week I provided some tips to help keep kids safe, focusing primarily on what we can do to teach our kids how to say, “NO” and what to watch for as a parent. You can find those tips at our website, www.ukiahpolice.com.
With the school year ending and summer starting, our kids will have more time on their hands. Crime statistics show that kids are at highest risk to become victims of violent crimes when they are out of school.
And, while many kids with time on their hands make good choices, some don’t. We’d all like to think our kids won’t succumb to peer pressure or curiosity, but filling their time with positive activities reduces opportunities for risky behavior. Studies show that kids who do not participate in activities are nearly three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs. They are also more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in unsafe sexual activity.
So, what “positive activities” can we find in Ukiah? One of our best opportunities for kids is the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah. Not only is the Club an affordable option, it offers an abundance of opportunities for kids to play, learn, and make new friends.
The Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah prides itself on being a safe place to learn and grow, all while having fun.
In fact, their employees and Board of Directors strive to create a “Positive Place for Kids.” Their vision is to provide a world-class experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters their doors. And, they work hard to ensure that every kid is on a track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle.
It only costs $30 dollars a year to become a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah. This membership covers the cost of participating for an entire year. As the Club proudly says, “We never turn away a child.” Scholarships are available for those who can’t afford the cost of a membership.
The Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah offers a variety of organized and free play; games, crafts, computer work, and arts programs. The Club is also excited about its garden project and working with the Ukiah Co-Op to prepare healthy snacks.
Starting this summer, some of the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah members will produce their first talent show, which will include working on the talent portion, or course, as well as learning how to video record the event and create CDs for purchase. Later this summer, the Club will invite families, donors, and community members to a fun filled, entertaining evening of the arts.
The Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah is so successful because of its committed staff members who watch over and guide the kids. These champions who keep our kids safe include Executive Director Liz Elmore, Bookkeeper Susan Kalantarian, Receptionist Erika Dixon, Program Director Alan Coleman, Teen Director Edith Wise-Andrews, and a fantastic and committed program staff of Ava, Brandy, Jessye, Sabrina, Cody, Jamie, and Saraya.
If you are looking for a volunteer or internship opportunity, the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah might be the perfect place. The Club is currently accepting resumes for volunteers and interns. You can learn more or apply by emailing your resume or request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah is located at the Alex Rorabaugh Center on the campus of Grace Hudson Elementary School at 1640 S. State Street, and is open this summer from 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from June 10 to August 16.
As you might have imagined, funding an operation this great can’t be done completely through the small membership fees. In fact, it takes much more to ensure the Club has a fantastic staff and facility to offer our kids.
To help raise funds, the Ukiah Daily Journal kicked off their sixth annual Ukiah Boys and Girls Club Fund Drive earlier this spring. The Ukiah Daily Journal 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.”
Each year, local Ukiah business Retech generously offers up to $50,000 in matching funds, so that every dollar you contribute to the Boys and Girls Club is actually two dollars. As the Ukiah Daily Journal 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.”
In addition to providing activities to keep kids out of trouble, the Boys and Girls Club offers important intangibles – the opportunity to engage in activities that help young people realize they have something to contribute to the group; the opportunity to work with diverse peers and adults to create projects, performances, and presentations that receive accolades from their families and the larger community; and the opportunity to develop a vision of life's possibilities that, with commitment and persistence, are attainable.
Executive Director Liz Elmore says that they are still accepting funds to reach their goal of $100,000 this fund raising drive. If you have already helped the Boy and Girls Club reach their fundraising goal, can’t thank you enough. If you’d like to help, even if it’s sponsoring just one child, we can’t think of a better 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.