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FUN Club seeks help in fight against gangs

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POSTED February 26, 2014 1:03 a.m.

Quincy McClain needs a little help.

The Southside Christian Church pastor has spearheaded efforts for the past five summers to provide at-risk kids with a healthy outlet on Friday nights. It includes wholesome food, games, and weekly guest speakers on everything from the importance of staying away from drugs to improving their academic skills.

The FUN Club was started by the Southside Christian Church congregation in response to the challenge Manteca Police issued to community and church groups over six years ago to help stem the growing influence of gangs in Manteca especially in the Southside Park neighborhood.

The church is located near the Southside Park neighborhood. Though most of the congregation does not live in the immediate vicinity, they felt they had an obligation to try and make a difference.

The object is to provide kids an alternative to the influence of gangs while at the same time steering them on a path to becoming responsible when they grow up. Manteca Police had expressed a desire to work with the community to reduce the potential for future gang members through such efforts that the church launched.

Last year, upwards of 200 youth had a safe haven to learn, play and be mentored thanks to the non-profit’s ability to rent the former Manteca News building at Yosemite and Fremont avenues. It marked a significant jump in attendance over the first five years when the congregation made do by temporarily converting their church at 314 Locust Ave. each week for the Friday Unity in the Neighborhood (FUN) Club gatherings

The FUN Club draws kids even though there are no violent video games. There’s no junk food. There are even lectures on the importance of exercise, nutrition, hard work, and responsibility.

It may not seem like a winning formula to pack an event week after week in the summer with well over 100 kids. But that is exactly the case with the FUN Club.

Youth from 6 to 17 devour healthy food such as salads, vegetables, and fruit as if there is no tomorrow. They also play things such as foosball, crafts, ping pong, air hockey, basketball, and more. And they also enthusiastically participate in talks on everything from how to avoid gangs to proper dental hygiene.

McClain appeared before the Manteca City Council last week asking if the city — or anyone else for that matter — could help them secure a permanent home or at least rent a large facility such as the former Manteca News building.

To contact McClain who coordinates the FUN program to ask about helping you can e-mail her at Q.mcclain@comcast.net, call her at (209) 275-2154 or visit the website at www.pacificalumni.org/funclub.

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