Vern Gebhardt knows firsthand what an afterschool program can provide children who don’t have anywhere else to turn.
As an educator and a longtime local coach Gebhardt saw countless local youth that would otherwise find themselves headed down the wrong path find guidance by getting involved in something – regardless of what that something was.
So when he gave a $1,000 check to the Manteca Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday, Gebhardt – who is running for a seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Education – said that he knew that it was going to an organization that would make a difference in the life of a child.
“When kids don’t have some place to go then they’re more likely to get involved in something that’s not beneficial for them,” he said. “I’ve seen it first hand, and as anybody in Manteca knows the Boys and Girls Club has long been one of the non-profits that has served this community and its youth admirably.
“I know that this is going to help kids.”
Gebhardt retired from Manteca Unified School District as the Athletic Director of Sierra High School, and successfully ran for a seat on the school board shortly thereafter. It was there that he saw the Manteca Unified Student Trust – the replacement to defunct Acorn League junior high sports program – grow from a conceptual idea into a bonafide force.
In his final years at Sierra High, Gebhardt taught before and after school PE classes and said that keeping kids busy – just providing an outlet – can make all of the difference in the world.
“One of the things that I really enjoy about what they offer here at the Boys and Girls Club is the study program,” he said. “I think that gives kids a chance to move ahead with their work and it’s puts a focus on what’s important. This is a fantastic asset for the community.
“I’ve been involved with a lot of excellent programs, and the Boys and Girls Club has always had excellent leaders and community support.”
According to Miller, the $1,000 check will be used to help offset the cost of membership scholarships that are handed out to kids that come from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds.
Knowing that there are people in the community like Gebhardt, she said, that are willing to reach into their own pocket and donate to help children shows how important programs like the one she oversees are.
“This is something that’s going to serve so many kids that come down here daily and enable us to serve them in so many different ways,” she said. “This is a donation that is really going to serve kids that are in need.”