With a heavy heart, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties will be closing our after school and summer program services at the Old Elm and Round Walk Village Clubhouses in Petaluma as of June 11, due to the upcoming loss of $160,000 in annual in-lieu moneys from the City of Petaluma.
Due to the loss of California's Redevelopment agencies, funding for non-profits in Petaluma is being substantially reduced. The last day for after school and summer program services at both the Old Elm and Round Walk Village Clubhouses will be on Friday, May 25.
I want to demonstrate to you the true impact our programs have by sharing with you the words of Old Elm Village Club Member Erik Alcazar, a senior at Casa Grande High School, who has attended the Old ElmClub for six years:
"Laughter, smiles, and the awesome staff are what come to mind when someone mentions the Boys & Girls Club to me. Over the last few years, I have been able to build many relationships with the club members as well as the staff at Old Elm Village clubhouse. The club has not only been a safe and fun place to be, but is has been a second family to me and has helped me to achieve my personal and academic goals.
"I grew up being bullied and picked on in elementary school as well as junior high. The club was a safe place where I did not have to worry about being in those situations. There have been many times when my friends were out making bad decisions, but luckily, I was at the club during those times, avoiding trouble.
"The club is also important to me because of the academic help they have provided me. Now that I have matured and I understand where I want to go in life, I have started to take all of the opportunities I can to further my education. The club has provided a space where I can study for my exams, receive help on my essays, and I have always been offered help on my homework. The club not only has helped me academically, but it has also allowed me to focus more on my career path. The club has affected many aspects of my life, it has been a safe place, a fun place, a place where I can pursue my interests, and discover who I am; but most importantly it has one name, home."
As we face this new challenge of need for services for the 189 children and youth — youth like Erik, who considers the club "Home" and will be directly impacted by this funding loss — we ask for your help! It just takes one person to change the life of a child. We are calling on our community to please make a donation so that we may continue to provide vital services to the children who need us most.
If you would like to make a gift, please visit our web site at www.petaluma- marinbgc.org, or call at 769-5322, ext. 11. Also, please continue to ask your state legislators to seek solutions to complex funding issues that have the greatest adverse impact upon the most economically disadvantaged children in California.