Eric Nascimento Jr. knows how important the Manteca-Lathrop is in the lives of 1,800 kids who take advantage of the club’s programs.
That’s why the 16-year-old East Union High student is donating $1,000 — the winnings from two 51Fifty Junior Late Model races he won this year to the Boys & Girls Telethon effort that takes place this Tuesday through Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the clubhouse, 545 W. Alameda St.
The telethon is the club’s major fundraiser.
Nascimento — who plays defensive line for the Lancers when he’s not racing for his father’s Nascimento Motorsports team — was the 2016 Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. Other race car drivers include Eric Holmes of Escalon.
Nascimento, who started out as a go-cart racer several years ago, decided before he started racing this year that all of his winnings this season would go to the club that had a big impact not only on his life and his friends but that of his father when he went there as a youth.
Under the hood of his car is 550 horsepower. But on top of that hood is the name of something that Nascimento believes is even more powerful — the logo and name of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca & Lathrop.
Eight of Nascimento’s races have already appeared on MAVTV — the Motorsports network. Two other races that have already been taped will be broadcast in the coming weeks on the cable TV channel.
His father, Eric Nascimento, said the club has had a positive influence on both his sons. Ethan, 10, also races in go-cart competitions.
“The club helped me more than my kids,” the older Nascimento said.
He recalled how growing up the club provided a place to stay out of trouble and keep busy playing sports and participating in other activities. When he was attending, Nascimento said the club was open Tuesday through Saturday as bingo fundraisers were held Mondays to help pay for the programs. He said Mondays were real tough on kids not being able to go to the club. But he said they’d help clean up after the bingo was over as they looked forward to their reward — playing basketball for several hours in the gym afterwards.
Nascimento also believes the melting pot the club offers — economically and culturally — has a positive impact on those attending.
He recalled several years ago when he went to pick up his son on a rainy day when he noticed a young boy leaving the club on foot with a bag of groceries that he earned from the Food for Thought program the club offers for members who complete their homework assignments before participating in activities.
Nascimento said his son told him the boy lived hear Shasta School. On the way there he recalled how the young club member talked about his family and the fact they didn’t have PG&E and how the food would make a big difference.
“When kids come here to play basketball or play pool, they don’t care what the other kids’ families make or want to see their W-2 form,” noted Mark McCool who oversees programs for the club. “All they care about is they have friends. . . . They build friendships that last a lifetime.”
About the Boys
& Girls Club effort
The Boys & Girls Club of Manteca-Lathrop has been relying on community support for 37 years to provide a safe haven for kids.
That support has turned out endless success stories.
uHundreds of youth with the club’s homework assistance effort and life skills programs have become the first in their families to go onto college.
uCountless youth have stayed out of trouble after school and in the summer by accessing the club’s offerings.
uYouth from single parent families have benefitted from mentoring.
Each November the club relies on a telethon to provide the lion’s share of their operating budget. The $120,000 they hopefully will raise between Tuesday, Nov. 7, and Thursday, Nov. 9, will enable the non-profit to continue offering programs for 1,800 youth currently in Manteca and Lathrop.
The telethon effort relies on community volunteers — groups and individuals — to make phone calls. The club still is in the need for volunteers from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. each day
Those who can help are asked to contact the club by calling 239-KIDS.
The club that serves youth 6 to 17 years of age has an annual membership fee for families that can afford it of $60 a year or $1.15 a week. The $60 fee does not cover the cost of providing programs that come to a per member cost of $240 a year. The balance is covered by donations, fundraisers, and private sector grants.
The fee covers all offerings including karate lessons from longtime instructor Robin Taberna twice a week.
The club offers homework assistance, computers for doing school work, and various character building programs. It also offers a variety of recreation games, dance classes, sports leagues, arts classes, or simply a safe place to spend time with friends.
The club has stepped up its homework assistance and tutoring by securing volunteers with specific expertise in various subjects. Kids hit the computer lab to tackle school work before joining in other club activities that run the gamut from sports and arts to table games or just hanging around with friends.
The club works closely with members’ teachers and parents. They often have a representative at parent-teacher conferences so they can dial in on exactly what help a student needs. And in cases where there are single parent households and the parent can’t get off work, club volunteers will step in to meet with teachers.
Among the popular programs are the teen room, flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter, year-round karate lessons offered by Robin Taberna, and free music lessons.
During the summer, the club provides free breakfast and lunch to all kids — members and non-members — up to age 18.
The club is closed Saturdays and Sundays.
For more information, call the club at 239-KIDS.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org