Kids attending a Boys & Girls Club for 105 days or more in a year, are twice as likely to graduation from high school and have a healthy quality of life, according to a recent study.
That study is showing results in the local area, including Santa Barbara County, and club members are being rewarded for participating.
“My great Grandpa helped to build this place,’ said Gilbert Herrera who was wearing his special gold card for achieving the high goal.
Santa Barbara’s Westside Boys and Girls Club is part of the United group that includes Lompoc, Goleta and Carpinteria.
Herrera says he knows he is “on the right track to becoming successful.”
The Director of Advancement, Carla Leal sees many members encouraging others.
“They have their card, they wear them all the time. It is an opportunity for them to say ‘hey where is your gold card?’ and it also drives leadership skills,” said Leal.
Herrera says after school they get a snack, recreation and a power hour of studying with tutors. “[We] do our homework so we have more time to do what we like, at home and they just help us a lot here.”
Among those helping the kids are retired teachers, Leal says.
“Whatever homework they have we try to provide any support that they need,” Leal said.
Time at the club also includes a chance to show their art skills or create music in the custom built studio through the honored ‘Notes for Notes’ music program.
Alejandra Duenez says she was shy at first, but warmed up to the place.
“When I came here a little longer I stopped being shy because I believed in myself that I would make more friends and talk to them.”
Duenez says the club has helped her see that goals can be achieved in school, including college.
Recently, some of the gold card honorees were welcomed by the Santa Barbara City Council with additional awards.
Manager Priscilla Hernandez often greets the members at the front desk and says a consistent face there gives them comfort and security.
“We take academics really serious here. Being educated opens the doors for these kids something that they don’t always have that opportunity,” Hernandez said.
For more information, visit the Santa Barbara County Boys and Girls Club online.