By Kira Golden
There are three different branches of the Boys and Girls Club of America in our desert: The Palm Springs branch, the Coachella Valley branch—which oversees the entire east valley—and the Cathedral City branch. “It’s tough,” says Cathedral City branch administrator Scott Robinson, “being the smallest, and not as recognizable.” Robinson went on to explain that each branch, while under a common umbrella organization, must handle its own fundraising. The Boys and Girls Club of America is a non-profit organization that provides after-school services focusing on youth development in a myriad of areas including education, arts, sports and fitness, and career exploration. All children between the ages of six to eighteen are welcome to benefit from the programs provided. They are open from when schools let out until 6:30pm on weekdays and they also have special hours and programs to accommodate for the summer. The organization prides itself on developing age-appropriate programs that will help children, and especially those in need, develop skills and also give them access to tools that will aid in their achievement of success.
For teens that are nearing college-age, the Boys and Girls Club provides a College Resource Center that is full of information about scholarships, the SATs, college applications, and even goes on field trips to college campuses, allowing kids to visit various schools and see for themselves the merits each possesses. For younger children, they provide reading programs in which each child is tested and their books are leveled to match the reading level of that particular child. They sponsor summer learning programs, mentorship programs much like the Big Brother/Big Sister programs, as well as programs that give these children access to the arts.
“Our motto is that everybody has a gift,” said Robinson. “And by creating the opportunity to explore different areas of interest and different media, we can help kids find out what that gift is, and then nurture and develop it.” He spoke of culinary programs, arts programs, team sports—anything to get the kids active and interested in their own future. “We want them to follow their dreams, and we are the support system that will help them do it.”
Last year’s AMFM Festival showcased the Boys and Girls Club Shooting Stars Production company. This is one of the many arts programs provided by the Boys and Girls Club; this one focuses on photography and filmmaking. The AMFM Fest charged the kids with making films based on the question “Who Am I?” Each child made a film on the subject they are the best experts on: who they are as people, and as a community. The kids had their films shown on a big screen, along with full red carpet treatment, including a limo ride, media attention, and photographers. Each of them even received versions of an Academy Award.
This year, in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act, the Boys and Girls Club has spent the last six months taking the children all over California, to Joshua Tree, to San Jacinto—and they’ve put together an educational documentary of their experiences at these national parks.
AMFM Fest, which will be going on November 14th, 15th, and 16th, will be showcasing that film and the children who contributed to its production. Speaking of last years’ festivities, Robinson said, “The kids were just glowing. They felt like rock stars.”
In addition to AMFM Fest, the Cathedral City branch of the Boys and Girls Club has numerous upcoming events designed to create awareness and, hopefully, raise funds for their community projects. On October 23rd, they are hosting the National Lights On After School event, which will be the kickoff to their Join the Crusade Campaign. There will be an open house at the Boys and Girls Club with free tours every twenty minutes starting at 6pm and a tour in Spanish at 7pm.
On November 13th the Boys and Girls Club will be taking part in the Give Big Riverside online event. It’s a twenty-four hour online giving campaign in which many non-profit organizations will participate. Anyone is free to go online and pick the organization of their choice and donate. Through this event, there will be prizes and bonuses granted to the organization that receives the largest number of donations or the highest amount over a certain period of time, making every donation worth far more than its original dollar amount.
Last, but definitely not least, they have the 5th Annual Holiday Extravaganza on December 3rd. It’s a traditional kick-off to the holidays, with musical entertainment, an auction, and races for the kids. Admission is $30 but that does include food and drinks, so everyone is sure to have a fantastic time! The money gained from the event will go straight to the Cathedral City Boys and Girls Club.
Over the last ten years, Cathedral City’s branch has been focusing on community projects such as turning abandoned buildings into teen centers, playgrounds, and other facilities for children. Those are wonderful additions, but Robinson realizes that now is the time to focus on funds—but he intends to be proactive about it. “I don’t want to stand there with my hand out—I want to make every donation count. If we can raise it, we can double it.”
To this end, he has arranged for various organizations to match donations for each of the upcoming events. The open house will match up to $100,000 in donations, whereas the Give Big Riverside has two separate deals to match up to $5,000, which could total to triple or quadruple that number if they reach the goal. For the Holiday Extravaganza, the Berger Foundation has agreed to match up to $25,000, so every person that attends will be donating $60 towards their local Boys and Girls Club when only spending $30 and having a great holiday time in the bargain.
For any more information on the Boys and Girls Club, please visit their website at www.bgcccity.org or call at 760-324-5844.