Kirk Waters knows firsthand how beneficial the Boys and Girls Club can be.
Growing up on the San Francisco Peninsula, Waters would spend as much time as he could at the Boys Club of San Mateo. He used the one hour a day they were closed to do his homework and then returning to take full advantage of the activities.
He didn’t know it at the time, but the organization and the facility, he says, provided shelter from a bad neighborhood and helped provide positive role models that molded the young minds that filtered through the doors.
“There were people there that were a lot like Jon Cardoza is here – a good role model that kids can relate and look up to,” said the fire chief. “I didn’t know it then, but when I go back there today I can see that it’s a pretty bad neighborhood, and I’m glad that I had the Boys Club that I could turn to.”
Waters was one of dozens of volunteers that helped make the 32nd annual Boys and Girls Club Telethon – which wrapped up Tuesday – possible. Tasked with bringing all of the individual phone teams together throughout the two-day event, he hovered around the phone bank making sure that everything was going according to plan.
The two-day effort raised $76,565. The goal was $125,000.
And in another part of the building, Pat Rabelo was tackling a different but interwoven task that complemented the job that the fire chief was charged with.
As groups showed up to spend their hour dialing and calling, Pat Rabelo gave a brief rundown about what to expect when out on the phone bank and how to fill out and distribute the pledge cards.
It was a way for the local real estate agent to give back to an organization that he truly believes in.
“The Boys and Girls Club provides such a big service to the youth of the community, and it’s important to protect that because it’s a safe place for them to come and to express themselves in a positive environment,” Rabelo said. “It’s great to see so many different people coming together to make this work – community leaders, parents and friends of the club. That’s what makes this possible.”
Tucked back in a room behind the scenes, Chuck Crutchfield – the former longtime Boys and Girls Club executive director for whom the Alameda Street complex is named – laughs and jokes with friends and colleagues while going through and tabulating the pledge cards as they come across.
It’s the room where checks and cash come in and the accounting takes place, and it’s the room where a local community service legend gets the chance to put his Boys and Girls Club hat back on for two days while doing what he can to keep the wheels of the machine moving.
In the end, he says, it’s all about the kids.
“I think that with all of the cuts, this is the only full-time, low-cost place where kids that would normally fall through the cracks can come and hang out until 8 p.m. on most nights of the week,” Crutchfield said. “It’s a second home to a lot of them, and it’s a place where they can get encouragement and self-esteem – and that’s important. You’re not going to find a lot of places anymore with the way that budgets are, and this is still a place that offers that.”