SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A breakthrough agreement has been made with the United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club. They are joining together.
Previously, the clubs have operated separately.
The announcement was made today at the Santa Barbara site on Canon Perdido St.
Overall about 5000 kids will be helped with the club's services from Carpinteria to Lompoc.
The clubs have been offering special healthy meals for children who are homeschooling due to COVID-19, and also out for the summer.
There are many outreach plans in the works and solutions for the personal distancing requirements necessary in the months ahead.
"All we really want is to help the kids in our community and we are better at this together that we are separate," said Tony Vallejo, president of the board for the United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County.
Discussions began eight months ago. The kids were the top priority no matter where they were from in the county.
The Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club has operated under its own budget for years. Joining the other clubs means it will be with Carpinteria, Santa Barbara Westside, Goleta, Buellton and Lompoc.
Vallejo said, "we can make sure that our resources, that we are able to save as a merged organization , will go more to the kids which is what we are looking for here ."
David Bolton president of the Santa Barbara downtown Boys & Girls club board said, "operating revenue will be saved, more programs will be offered, more scholarships, and at the end of the day those who will benefit the most will be the kids in our community."
Closed since mid March due to COVID 19 concerns, the Santa Barbara Club has now reopened.
Monday morning 12 kids were checked out, cleared, sanitized and spaced out. There parents were asked health questions for their child and a forehead temperature check was taken.
More children are coming later this week.
Inside one of the newly design rooms with additional spacing, some of the kids were already making art projects.
Thaddeus Sparkman made his own personal pass when he had to leave his chair. It had "sea horses, crabs and stars a whale on a flower and (on the back) a bunch of stars. "
Michael Baker, United Boys & Girls Club CEO, said " they are going from room to room with the same group all day. So it is a whole different kind of operation but it is one we take very seriously. "
At lunch they are together enough to talk and laugh but apart six-feet under the health rules. They get breakfast and lunch during their day at the club.
Combining the clubs together means about 5000 kids will be served and over 400 volunteers will be on hand to assist them.
Bolton stressed the importance of the word "united." He said, "and how special a word that is today - united - and we are truly united today."
Getting the clubs united and reopened is a key for the summer months, and as the new school year approaches with increased changes to have safe after school programs.
After three months of unusually quiet buildings, Baker said it was an emotional moment for him to see the comeback. "It is a good feeling to walk into a Boys & Girls Club again and hear kids." He said it was the complete opposite of his goals to go into empty buildings without children inside where they would normally be playing sports, doing homework, creating art or making new friends.
For more information go to : United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County.