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Police chiefs past & present agree: Boys & Girls helps reduce city crime
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It’s been 30 years since the Boys & Girls Club got its start.

And every step of the way the Manteca Police Department has been among the biggest boosters and partners.

“Its effective at keeping kids out of trouble,” noted current Police Chief Dave Bricker who is a past president of the Boys & Girls Club and current board member.

Former Police Chief Willie Weatherford – who was a captain at the time – was part of the founding board of the club. He watched as the club helped cut crime in the immediate neighborhood by over 37 percent when its doors opened as well as reduce juvenile delinquency elsewhere in the city. Weatherford was so sold on the effectiveness of the Boys & Girls Club in helping keep youth on a straight and narrow path that when he became city manager-police chief in Galt he helped start a club in that community as well.

Bricker’s predecessor, Charlie Halford, was also on the Boys & Girls Club as police chief. After he retired over a year ago, Halford stepped up and is serving as the executive director for the club. He is credited with helping get things back in order after two rocky tenures of executive directors who have since departed. His belief in the club is so strong that he is taking only half of the salary for the position so services that the youth depend on will be impacted as little as possible during the economic downtown.

Manteca Police Captain John Orcutt is also on the governing board for the Boys & Girls Club. Manteca Police Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn serves as the main host for the telethon and helps with other club events throughout the year.

All five are involved in the Nov. 23-24 telethon that typically generates the lion’s share of the donations needed to provide services for 1,500 youth.

Bricker noted the roughly $340 a year cost per kid is a major bargain compared to the $22,000 plus it costs to incarcerate a juvenile offender in the California Youth Authority.

“It (the club) helps fill idle time with constructive programs for kids,” Bricker said.

Bricker noted that kids left to their own devices after school without parental supervision often get into trouble. In that aspect, it keeps them from falling in with gangs.

Bricker and others have noted that the club is a cross-section of the community reflecting all family income levels and cultural backgrounds. The police chief and others can cite instances where kids – jarred by a suicide of a parent or other major family traumas – have turned to the club for support and strength.

Bricker is hoping community members – groups and individuals – will step up and help with fundraising during the telethon.

This year’s goal is
to raise $120,000

The goal is to raise $120,000 to help finance supervision and programs for club members.

The non-profit counts on the telethon each year to provide roughly 25 percent of the funds they need to run a site in Manteca and Lathrop. The Manteca site is open school days from 3 to 8 p.m. at the main site at 545 W. Alameda Street and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on school holidays.

The rough economy has generated an ever bigger attendance as parents struggling to make ends meet with reduced pay and shorter hours are dropping babysitting and child care that they can no longer afford and are using the club as a safe haven for their kids while they are away from home working.

Individuals who would like to assist with pledge phones are asked to call the club at 239-KIDS.

The strategy this year is to see if people can spare at least $10 given the economy has hit those who have traditionally been major donors hard including new home construction, dairy farming, and auto sales.

The club just doubled their membership fee to $24 – the first jump in more than 14 years.

The Boys & Girls Club offers a year’s worth of karate lessons, play in flag football and basketball leagues, have a safe place to hang out after school until as late as 8 p.m. with friends, play and do your homework for one monthly fee that is kept a slow as possible to make sure the kids who need a safe haven can afford it.

The $24 fee also includes Boys &Girls Club T-shirt. There is a break for families that have more than two children that would cost $48. After that, each additional child is $12 a year.

The club offers homework assistance, computers for doing school work, and various character building programs. It also offers a variety of recreation games, sports leagues, arts classes, or simply a safe place to spend time with friends.

For more information, call the club at 239-KIDS.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail