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Fun Friday nights
Event provides alternative to gangs
Chris Christian goes for a personal best of seven Hula Hoops at one time during the weekly Friday Unity in the Neighborhood program at Southside Christian Church. - photo by HIME ROMERO

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 at Southside Christian Church’s Friday Unity Night in the neighborhood.

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.

The success of the free FUN program shows no sign of slowing down as it starts the second half of its summer program. It takes place every Friday at the church at 314 Locust Ave. with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. The programs run from 6 to 9 p.m.

“We want to help prepare our young people to live long, live healthy, and live free from gangs, drugs, and crime,” said FUN coordinator Quincy McClain. “We can only do this by the community coming together for a common cause.”

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 four years ago to help stem the growing influence of gangs in Manteca.

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.

June was Health Education & Awareness Month with the theme “You Are What You Eat & Drink”.  July is Empowerment Month underscored by the theme: “Say No to Gangs, Drugs, Crime, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Bullying”.  And August is Back to School Month: “Be Cool Stay in School, You Must be a High School Graduate”. 

Among the upcoming programs is Mothers Against Drunk Driving on Aug. 29. This year they are sending a crash car from an actual accident. They use it so the kids can see the horrible impact of drinking and driving.  Also, Give Every Child a Chance will be bringing their Computer Technology Bus to the FUN program.

To contact Pastor Quincy McClain who coordinates the FUN program and to ask about helping you can e-mail her at, call her at (209) 275-2154 or visit the website at