Of all the cards you could help put in the hand of a child, the most effective might just be a Boys & Girls Club of Manteca-Lathrop membership card.
It is a card that’s accepted for just about anything: After school tutoring, organized athletics, arts classes, karate lessons, games room fun, computer access for learning enrichment, teen activity center, prevention and mentoring programs, or just plain hanging out with friends in a safe place.
The blue and white Manteca Boys & Girls Club delivers all that and more for each of the 1,600 Manteca-Lathrop youths who carry the card.
But how does $60 a year deliver a program at two sites that costs $445,000 a year and pays countless dividends?
The answer is easy. It is pledges and donations that make it all possible.
Given that a significant number of the club membership qualifies for scholarships underwritten in part by ongoing annual donations from service clubs such as Manteca Sorpotimists, Sunrise Kiwanis, and Manteca Rotary among others actual membership generate less than 10 percent of what is needed to provide the after school program.
That’s why for more than 35 years the club had relied on the annual telethon that takes place this year from Nov. 12-15 to raise roughly 25 percent of the funds needed to keep the club open. The club needs volunteers — individuals and/or groups — to help make phone calls that week between 2 and 4 p.m. as well as 6 and 8 p.m. each day. Volunteers are sought who can commit to an hour. To volunteer or to obtain more information, contact the club at 239-KIDS (5437).
More than 35 years ago, Manteca residents wanted to give the community’s youth a safe place to grow. They provided the money, the labor and the commitment.
Today, that commitment continues through the investment of countless volunteer hours and the willingness to open hearts and wallets through annual fundraisers such as the Boys & Girls Club telethon,
It costs $280 a year per member to keep the club open Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on school days and Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. during school breaks and summer vacation.
Roughly half of the money comes from grants such as Smart Moves that help teens and youths establish parameters of behavior. The rest is raised from the community.
It is one of the most cost-effective ways of providing youth programs.
It has a proven track record with San Joaquin County juvenile delinquency authorities who will sometimes give a kid on the edge of trouble a second chance by having them become involved in the Boys & Girls Club. The results are a testimonial to the power of the club. Many who once skated on the edge of the system are now productive adults, raising families, going to college, serving our country, working in jobs such as assistant store managers and more.
Each child who doesn’t end up in the juvenile justice system saves taxpayers $22,000 plus a year in the amount spent on supervising and keeping them as wards of the state.
But that is only a small part of the Boys & Girls Club success story. The program involves kids from ages 6 to 18 from all economic and family backgrounds. The club is a place where they can come together and grow.
The testimonials given by members of the year speak volumes of the club’s role in their lives. One young man told of how the club helped him keep “things together” after his father died at a young age and kept him on the path to success.
Others tell of being able to realize their potential through community volunteering or simply learning new skills. And for some, the club is what keeps them going toward meeting their first goal — a high school diploma. Sometimes they end up either being the first in their family to graduate from high school or go on to college.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com