SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - For the first time after 82 years in Santa Barbara County, Boys & Girls Clubs had to shut their doors, but thanks to two local philanthropists, kids will be back starting starting on September 1.
With the help of the Audacious Foundation and Virgil Elings, all eight sites from Carpinteria to Lompoc will now be able to open their doors from 3-6pm at no cost to children who qualify for free and reduced school lunch.
This means that for three hours every weekday, hundreds of kids will be able to take dance and yoga classes, learn organic gardening, take part in outdoor activities, and eat a healthy snack.
The closures left a void in the community and over 3500 kids lost access to sports, tutoring, educational programs, and healthy after-school meals. Due to public health guidelines and the inability to have events, UBGC only had funding to open one location for summer camp.
“It has been a challenging year for all of us, including United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC), and especially our youth. These extremely generous donations are going to allow us to reopen our clubs,” said Tony Vallejo, Board president of UBGC.
Jane Wood Orfalea with the Audacious Foundation shared, “One of the greatest legacies of this pandemic is that children haven’t been able to be outside and playing. We need to get kids moving their bodies, taking care of their physical fitness and being connected with their peers. The United Boys & Girls Clubs are perfectly set up to support the health and wellness needs of children in Santa Barbara County.”
Virgil Elings is a longtime supporter of the Clubs and recognizes the impact the Clubs have on the community and youth. “Times are tough right now, and we all need to help out the kids. After all, they are our future," said Elings.
CEO Michael Baker said, “I can’t thank Paul, Jane and Virgil enough. Their gifts will allow us to open our clubs again to those that need us the most.”
The next goal of UBGC is to open four Club sites as community learning centers during the day for working families that do not have access to childcare. The cost of the program for each youth is $150 per week. Many of our members do not have a conducive learning environment at home, and this program aims to rectify this by providing students with in-person educational support and free meals.
UBGC’s goal is to raise $250,000 to provide scholarships to kids with the highest need who would otherwise not be able to afford the fee. To support this effort, you can donate at www.unitedbg.org.