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FUN time helps kids improve lives, avoid gangs
Jesse Delgado, second from left, is all smiles during his turn to help himself to some fruit in the dinner line during the Friday Unity Night in the Neighborhood Club program conducted at the Southside Christian Church. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Jason Elenes enjoys the Family Unity Night in the Neighborhood.

The incoming Manteca High sophomore along with Richard and Arthur Hernandez live not too far from the FUN Club Inc. program held at Southside Christian Church.

“I like to come here and play sports,” Elenes said on Friday. “And Quincy tells us stuff that’s helpful.”

He’s referring to Quincy McClain, pastor of the church located at 314 Locust Ave., Manteca.

She hopes to someday move the FUN Club Center to Sequoia School, where most of the youngsters in the program attend.

Incidentally, FUN Club is open to those age 6 through 17, and consists of such groups as the Little Engines (6-12), Rising Stars (9-12) and Bold Eagles (13-17).

According to McClain, the Fun Club, at no charge, is held for 12 consecutive Fridays in the summer starting at 6 p.m., with each month consisting of a theme and every session including a special guest. It was launched last year to combat the influence of gangs and to give kids a positive place to go as well as learn how to improve their lives.

Last Friday, for example, San Joaquin County Board of Supervisor Leroy Ornellas was the guest of honor for the red-ribbon cutting event.

On this day, Stephanie Walton, a registered nurse and health educator at Kaiser Permanente, spoke to youngsters about “The Pyramid & You” while discussing health eating habits.

Her topic was part of the theme for June, “Health Education & Awareness Month: You Are What You Eat and Drink.”

Youngsters, in turn, were also provided with healthy food options such as fresh fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries and cherries) and vegetables.

Meanwhile, the Fun Club Inc. theme for July will be “Empowerment Month: Say No to Gangs, Drugs, Crime, Alcohol and Tobacco.”

August, McClain said, is “Back to School Month: Be Cool, Stay in School.”

Like Elenes and the Hernandez brothers, Adrian Morris, a fifth-grade student at Sequoia in the fall, is back at Fun Club for a second straight year. He, too, enjoys outdoor sports consisting mostly of basketball, volleyball and the bounce house along with some of the indoor activities air hockey, foosball, and ping pong.

“Ping pong is my game,” Morris said.

Added McClain: “Learn, play and have fun – that’s our Fun Club motto,” she said.

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