BGC Brief Spring 2024

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Board of Directors

Rob Duchow President of the Board Southern California Gas Company

MacKenzie Boone Vice President Ascend Real Estate

Amir Zabrani Treasurer Bank of the Sierra

Alan Avery Secretary Kern Family Health Care

Alex Balfour Cushman and Wakefield/Pacific Commercial Realty Advisors

Greg Broida BroidaCo Auto

Lynne Carrithers Retired

Michael George Safe 1 Credit Union

Jimmy Gill Gold Leaf Farming

Cherif Guirguis LinQride Inc.,

Larry Koman Koman Homes

Ben LeBeau LeBeau Thelen, LLP

Marivic Louey Kern Energy

Kristin Monsibais

Williams Adams & Company, CPAs

Timothy J. Simmons MOC Incorporated

Bryce Sterling StructureCast

Zane Smith Executive Director

Barry Hill Associate Executive Director

Legacy Board

Ken Carter

Watson Realty

Jason Cohen UBS Financial Services, Inc.

David Couch Kern County Supervisor

James & Barbara Kurfess Retired

Janice Meek Retired

Ben Stinson Stinson’s Office Supplies

Gloria Williams Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County

Letter from our Legacy Board Chair


It gives me immense pleasure to serve as the current Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County Legacy Board Chair.

The Legacy Board of Directors launched in 2021 to recognize and re-engage past Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County governing Board Members who continue to significantly impact and shape the Club. As the Legacy Board Chair, I have the privilege of collaborating with a group of exceptionally talented community leaders who serve as a managing committee to help ensure the advanced education and workforce readiness of the Club’s youth. Each year additional directors are appointed to the Legacy Board and are honored during the annual Youth of the Year Legacy Gala.

As Legacy Board members, we advocate, innovate, and invest in local youth through mentoring, training, and leadership opportunities. Each member of our Legacy Board plays a key role and brings expertise at the executive level to help Club youth succeed with their aspirations. The Legacy Board defines strategies to help ensure the mission and purpose of the Club. Three main objectives are the success of the annual Youth of the Year Legacy Gala, the cultivation of the Youth of the Year program, and exploring support mechanisms to best sustain the Legacy Board Advanced Scholarship fund. Legacy Board members embrace the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County’s mission “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

My personal affiliation with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County has spanned more than 28 years and I am thankful to continue my association as a staff member in the Resource Development Department.

Maya Angelou said it best. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When the community’s youth enter the doors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, I trust they feel a sense of hope, empowerment, value and purpose.

My sincere thanks to all who have supported generously and continue to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County! Your partnership with the Club is making a positive impact on those we serve and provides a safe space for local youth to grow, thrive and become healthy adults.

If you would like more information on how you can become involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, please contact me directly, or stop by any of the club sites for a personalized tour.

Gloria Williams

Gloria Williams

Legacy Board Chair

Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County


My journey at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County started almost three years ago. I was introduced to the club through my older sister who spent her last summer of high school participating in their Career Launch Program. I’ve always looked up to my sister in every way possible and wanted to be just like her. I was just a little sister who idolized her big sister and I decided to follow in her footsteps. When I turned fifteen, it was my turn, and I became a Club Kid. Little did I know that this decision would open a world of opportunities, shaping my character, improving my skills, and providing me with invaluable experiences.

My plan to receive training and possibly get a job over the summer became a reality, but the Club’s Career Launch Program was more than just a summer internship. The Summer Jobs Program is designed to help young individuals explore various career paths and prepare for the workforce. Over the course of ten weeks, I immersed myself in this comprehensive training program that not only introduced me to the world of employment, but also equipped me with essential life skills.

One of the fundamental skills I gained during this program was selfawareness. During training, I learned to identify my strengths and weaknesses, aspirations, and areas for improvement. By doing so, I have been able to build my confidence and better communicate my thoughts and ideas. In addition, I have become more mindful of my

actions, which has allowed me to make more informed decisions. This newfound selfawareness laid the foundation for effective communication in a professional setting.

Stressing the importance of punctuality and professionalism, the Career Launch classes provided practical tools for completing job applications, resumes, and interviews. Although I initially felt embarrassed doing the practice interview sessions in front of my entire class, that experience turned out to be a significant turning point for me. It taught me how to overcome interview anxiety and helped me perform better during my actual interview. Through the process of being in a new setting, I discovered things that interested me. I joined sports in my sophomore year of high school—the first in my family to do so. To my surprise, trying new things wasn’t as scary as I had initially thought, and my newfound independence taught me to get out of my comfort zone.

When the interview time arrived, I found myself exceptionally well-prepared, performing strongly enough to earn a callback for a second interview. A few days later, I received the news that I had secured the internship. During the week of training, I became CPR and first aid certified, and when they revealed the internship placements, I was excited to discover that I would be working at KGET TV-17 news.

Excited as I was, even the Career Launch classes did not fully prepare me for the chaos of the newsroom. However, through the chaos I had the opportunity to work alongside some incredibly talented and passionate individuals at KGET. I gained firsthand experience in all aspects of news production, from setting up cameras and conducting interviews to filming

Sydney VanFossen pictured with her 2024 Youth of the Year Award Legacy Board Member, Gloria Williams, congratulating Sydney on her accomplishment. Sydney and her parents with her scholarship check

stand-ups and editing packages. Each day brought unique challenges and unexpected adventures, from covering local events like the Fourth of July parade to reporting live at an active wildfire.

During my internship, Fridays were dedicated to professional training sessions at the Club. These sessions covered essential topics such as financial literacy, dining etiquette, and Food Handler certification. This training not only expanded my knowledge and skills for my current internship, but also equipped me for the future.

My internship concluded with our graduation, where I had the opportunity to deliver a speech reflecting on my experience with the Summer Jobs Program. If you had asked me to speak in front of a large audience just a year ago, I would have declined. However, thanks to my training with the Career Launch Program, I felt confident enough to share my story. My focus at school has been shifted to sports and student leadership. I became more involved in Associated Student Body and was elected class president my sophomore and junior year. I discovered my own strengths, new skills, and untapped interests, which have taught me to be independent and confident in my capabilities.

I am grateful to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, not only for providing me with a summer job, but also

offering a platform for both personal and professional development. The program taught me valuable lessons in responsibility, introduced me to diverse career paths, and equipped me with practical skills.

As I continue to grow and learn, I am always seeking opportunities to make a positive impact, whether it’s through volunteering, advocating for important causes, or simply being kind and supportive to those around me. As I express gratitude for the opportunities, connections, and memories gained through this program, I look forward to applying the lessons learned while I pursue a degree in marketing. Being a successful marketer will allow me to lead and promote programs that will continue to provide resources for Club kids in my community. I am incredibly proud and honored to be named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County 2024 Youth of the Year. Thank you for this honor, and I look forward to the meaningful impact we will continue to create together.

Sydney delivering her acceptance speech.

“The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.” by Dana Gioia, Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Boys & Girls Club’s Stage Door Academy created a home for performing arts more than 10 years ago by hiring two well trained and seasoned performance educators to create a “stage” which incorporated dance, song, acting, and leadership as an integral part of how the Club fosters new skills, knowledge, and self-confidence in the children entrusted to our care.

Deeply tied to performing community service and developing leadership, we created a special opportunity for kids to work together, create amazing performances to enrich the lives of friends, family, and community, while demonstrating that given the right environment, mentorship, and coaching…kids can accomplish anything and everything. This group, known as Music Fusion, committed to not only representing the Boys & Girls Club at its own events, but also lending their talents to other non-profits, causes, and community

events to entertain and inspire audience members.

We have seen our Music Fusion kids grow up and continue to use their craft personally and professionally in higher education, careers and circling back to support the next generation of Boys & Girls Club performers. Many of our kids have been recognized locally, regionally and at the national level for their commitment to improving the lives of others through performance and received college scholarships to support their education.

As all programs must evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of children, so has our vision of how to provide a robust performance experience now and in the future. Our instructors have expanded from two to five talented instructors to create a year-round series of workshops and licensed musical theater productions as part of a partnership with a well-beloved

local dinner theater. Leadership development and community impact continues to be an important focus of inspiring and motivating young performers. This year we have grown the program again by inviting several younger Club kids from our workshops to create a second cohesive team to hone their skills and delight our community.

When deciding what the name would be, it only made sense to choose something that reflected this new generation and our commitment to positive change, thus naming our group, “Evolution.” This talented and enthusiastic team of young leaders are building a new performance family that will grow their talents, skills, and community impact, while developing a social/emotional support system of peers, mentors, and Club affiliation. In addition to participating in on-going workshops, Evolution kids meet twice a week to focus cultivating skills and creating musical numbers that can be performed on stage, at events, and with our community partners.

Allow us to present…

Evolution, a youth team committed to improving the quality of life for our community through voluntary performance!

Introducing Evolution - the next generation of talented performers Evolution taking a break in our backyard.

Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield

Vince Aguilar

Justin & April Ahart

Paul Andre

Timothy & Caitlin Ashlock

Ariel & Abby Auffant

Alan Avery

Alex M. Balfour

Larry & Kay Bardin

Adam Belter

Cathy Bennett

Aimee Blaine

MacKenzie Boone

Greg & Rose Broida

John & Jean Browning

Charles & Theresa Bush

Chris Caratan

Juan & Sabrina Cazares

Elsie Collins

Gary & Donna Cross

Mickey & Alex Cushine

Mike & Maggie Cushine

Matt Damian

Chelsea Dow

Ken & Marjorie Dow

Karla Espinoza

Mark & Becky Evans

Alexandria Fabbro

Melissa Fortune & Bruce Beretta

Christine Frazier

Fanny Gama

Justin & Megan Garant

Monica Gonzales

Renee Goodwin

Robert & Jerry Haner

Matthew & Shelly Hewett

Barry Hill

Cynthia Huggins

Edgar Jacobs

Larry Koman

Allan Krauter & Anna Agenjo

Bernie & Lynn LeBeau

Michael Lewis & Barbara Rycerski

Ryan & Frances Lewis

Andrew Lopez

Quon & Marivic Louey

Christopher Lowe

Zachary Martindale

Erlinda Martinez

Natalie Martinez

Renee Massey

Janice Meek

Karinna Mendoza

Peggy Miller

Ruth Miranda

Chris & Jovan Molina

Alex & Kristin Monsibais

Jonathan & Mary Anne Mueller

Dale Oprandy

Randy & Mary Richardson

Bruce Saathoff & Tony Cervantes

Saber Insurance Agency

Darin Schwicker

Tim & Christy Simmons

John & Christina Sistrunk

Paul Skarphol

Zane & Amy Smith

Mark Steele

Bryce & Ashlyn Sterling

Keith Stonebraker

Carol Sugimori

Linda Sullenger

Robert Tafoya & Sandra Serrano

Josh & Susan Wall

Gloria Williams

Deborah Wood


Rite Aid Healthy Futures supports the work the Boys & Girls Club does every day to improve the health and well-being of children. The impact is real: 54% of Boys & Girls Club alumni said the Club saved their life.

Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation is helping Club members get excited about STEM by providing hands-on enrichment activities for the STEM Lab at the E.L. Jack and Monica Armstrong Youth Center.

Bechtel/BGCA is igniting a passion for STEM learning through the FIRST LEGO League Challenge for children attending the Boys & Girls Club – E.L. Jack and Monica Armstrong Youth Center.

Walmart (Facility # 5134, Facility # 1574, Facility # 2557, Facility # 3141, and Facility # 3138) is helping children and adolescents with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to develop friendships through integrated and inclusive social and recreational programs at two Boys & Girls Clubs: E.L. Jack and Monica Armstrong Youth Center in East Bakersfield and Stockdale Club in Southwest Bakersfield.

Through a Social Investment grant, Chevron will support facility and programming enhancements at the E.L. Jack and Monica Armstrong Youth Center and Lamont Club.

Sea Research Foundation is connecting small groups of youth with caring mentors to engage in weekly, structured, hands-on, multimedia STEM activities in Bakersfield and Lamont.

Panda Express/Panda Cares Foundation is supporting Great Futures for Club youth through advanced education scholarships for graduating seniors so they can achieve their dreams.

By supporting the Triple Play Program (mind, body, and soul), the Big Lots Foundation is promoting the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition for the Club members.

Forever 21 supports skilled, caring youth development professionals who understand where every kid is coming from and help them shape their path toward a great future.

Embracing Inclusivity

A Dedicated Program Coordinator Transforms Afterschool Programs for Exceptional Students

To the great benefit of Kern County, a remarkable leader is making waves in the realm of afterschool programs for intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) students. Meet Warcester “Cest” Williams, a program coordinator with a passion for inclusivity and a background in working with the unique needs of IDD children. Currently leading the new IDD afterschool program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, Cest is working hard to create an environment of joy, growth, and belonging for every child in the Club’s IDD program.

Cest’s journey into the world of special education began early in his career. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in speech/language pathology and audiology from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in speech pathology from Southern Illinois University, in 1986 he came to Bakersfield to work in neurological rehabilitation. As a speech/language pathologist, Cest worked with children and adults addressing a wide variety of disabilities from articulation errors to traumatic brain injuries. After receiving his education credentials from CSUB, he served as a principal in the continuation schools, court schools, and community schools here in Kern County. Sadly, he commented, “many of the students in those programs have undiagnosed disabilities which contribute to their issues in the traditional school setting.” Cest also worked as the director of alternative education and the division administrator of special services with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office. And before his retirement, he was a special education coordinator with the Panama Buena Vista Union School District.

One of the key components of Cest’s approach is customization. Recognizing that each child has unique abilities and challenges, he has implemented a personalized program that addresses diverse needs.

From sensory activities to adaptive games, every aspect of the program is carefully designed to nurture the individual strengths of each participant. “Since beginning to work here at the Club, I have been very impressed with the passion and dedication the staff has for the families and the community. I like the attention given to the programs for the students, allowing them the opportunity to be exposed to experiences that may not be available to them otherwise. Making the afterschool program available to the IDD students shows the commitment to the students and the community,” Cest said.

Inclusivity is not just a buzzword for Cest; it’s a way of life. He fosters an environment where neurotypical and special needs children play, learn, and grow side by side. The afterschool program has become a microcosm of a world where differences are celebrated, and friendships blossom irrespective of abilities. Cest stated that, “Including IDD students in the afterschool program is groundbreaking in Kern County. I am not sure that any of the afterschool options for IDD students allow the level of socialization and enrichment activities necessary for the overall growth of the students. I can see this program being a catalyst for other programs because what is being offered at the Club is desperately needed for the overall developmental growth of students with disabilities.”

As the program gains recognition, more parents are finding solace in knowing that there is a dedicated space where their children can not only be cared for but also flourish. Cest’s vision of inclusivity has turned the afterschool program into a beacon of hope for families who have often felt isolated in their journey.

Fun activities with Club members. Team member working with student during afterschool program. Warcester Williams IDD Program Coordinator

801 Niles Street


Bakersfield, CA 93385

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