BGC Brief Summer 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

Michael George Safe 1 Credit Union

Jimmy Gill Gold Leaf Farming

Cherif Guirguis LinQride Inc.,

Larry Koman Koman Homes

Ben LeBeau LeBeau Thelen, LLP

Matt Lemon Tri Counties Bank

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 a Board Member

When was the last time you volunteered your time to help someone in need or a social agency? Volunteer service is a cornerstone of compassion and community engagement, offering countless benefits to us as individuals and society as a whole. When individuals engage in acts of service, whether through volunteering, helping a neighbor, or participating in community initiatives, they contribute to the well-being of others and foster a sense of interconnectedness within the community.

One of the primary values of volunteer service is the opportunity it provides for us to give back to our communities. By offering our time, skills, and resources, volunteers contribute to addressing various social, environmental, and humanitarian issues. Whether it’s mentoring youth, feeding the homeless or conserving natural habitats, volunteer efforts play a crucial role in fostering positive change.

On a personal level, giving service has always provided me with a sense of fulfillment and purpose. It can provide opportunities to develop new skills, gain valuable experience, and expand our social networks. Engaging in volunteer activities also promotes mental and emotional well-being by boosting self-esteem, reducing stress and fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I’ve been a volunteer board member for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County for nearly two years now and it’s been so rewarding. I enjoy telling anyone about this incredible organization and the work they do. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

The value of giving service extends beyond individual benefits to impact society in general. Service plays a crucial role in addressing social issues, building stronger communities, and promoting positive change. By volunteering time, resources, and expertise, we contribute to the collective effort of addressing challenges such as poverty and inequity. As President Ronald Reagan said: “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Through acts of service, individuals not only enrich their own lives but also contribute to creating a more compassionate society. So, what do you say, is it time for you to reach out of your comfortable life and volunteer to help someone else?

There are several opportunities for volunteering at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County from serving meals to the kids, to helping with an event, to serving on a committee. If interested, contact Natalie Martinez at 661-325-3730.

Alan Avery

Alan Avery Board Member


Boys & Girls Club Grows Roots in McFarland

In the tranquil landscape of the San Joaquin Valley, a small rural community finds itself on the brink of a transformative journey with the expansion of an impactful youth development program. McFarland, known as the “Heartbeat of Agriculture,” and the home of the popular Sno-White drive-in and Maria’s Pizza, is a tight-knit community that has long cherished its traditional values, strong sense of family, and commitment to its children. It has thrived on the principles of hard work, resilience, and unity, yet they recognized the need to invest in the future—their youth.

Our introduction to the McFarland School District administration in February of 2021 to discuss after-school programs left our team inspired and motivated. By April of that year, we had a collaboration established and began hiring qualified local residents and training them to be youth development professionals directly at Horizon Elementary School. The school embraced our team and we hit the ground running with activities such as cooking, robotics, crafts, and organized sports five days a week after-school. Later “Fun Saturdays” were added to expand services and engage students in fun and engaging enrichment and social bonding activities.

Since the fall of 2021, we have duplicated our model based on hiring and training talented residents in and near McFarland to work with the district team to expand and deliver programs at Kern Avenue Elementary School and Browning

McFarland Youth Safety Team dedicated to keeping their school site safe of accidents.

Road STEAM Academy. This partnership continues to thrive to serve more youth than ever and now includes expanded healthy sports options such as cross country, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and more.

Our Area Program Director, Fanny Gama, gives credit to the tremendous hearts and unwavering commitment that the McFarland community has for its children. Boys & Girls Club has always been about creating an atmosphere of safety, belonging, positive guidance, and nurturing mentorships. We are eternally grateful to the McFarland School District, families and especially the children in our care for welcoming us so enthusiastically and making the Boys & Girls Club part of the community.

Amidst the small-town charm and postcard scenery a wave of hope and enthusiasm sweeps through this endearing community. Community leaders, educators and parents alike envision brighter futures for their children guided by the promise of a safe, engaging, and inclusive out-of-school program.

After School Program site Horizon Elementary School.
Science fun during after school program in McFarland.

In a world where change is constant, and challenges are ever-evolving, the voice of youth advocacy emerges as a potent force driving progress and shaping the future. The importance of youth advocacy cannot be overstated; it serves as a catalyst for positive change, empowers young voices, and cultivates a generation of informed and engaged leaders.

Youth advocacy is also a powerful tool for civic engagement and democratic participation. By actively participating in advocacy efforts, young people learn about the democratic process, civic responsibilities, and the power of collective action. They become informed citizens who understand the importance of voting, advocacy campaigns, grassroots organizing, and civic activism in shaping public policies and decisions.

The teen advocacy program at the Lamont Boys & Girls Club has worked to bring community partners to a central table to collaborate on projects such as the development of a skate park in Arvin, which opened in 2017, as well as advocating for a Bakersfield College Extension Campus in Arvin (Arvin Educational Center). In

addition, their advocacy work in Lamont has contributed to establishing an affordable housing unit for 41 families with a walking path, the complete renovation of Lamont Park (which is closed during renovations and is expected to be complete in 2025), and campaigning for more stringent code enforcement in public places frequented by families. This year’s focus has been continuing their clean air advocacy. Thanks to the support from

the KDA Creative Corps and the California Arts Council (a state agency), the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County engaged local media artists to document the teens’ clean-air advocacy efforts in South Kern. The resulting short educational documentary, available in Spanish and English, draws attention to the high levels of air pollution in the rural cities of Arvin and Lamont and how local teens are using air monitoring, advocacy, and community education and

Lamont Teens test air at Panorama Bluffs.
Lamont teens with members of the Kern Dance Alliance during the premiere of “The Air We Breath.”

engagement to improve the quality of life for those living in one of California’s most disadvantaged communities.

“The Air We Breathe” is more than just a short film; it’s a powerful narrative that intertwines environmental awareness, community engagement, and the urgency of collective action. Premiering during the Earth Day Fair at the Lamont Club on April 22, 2024, the film captivated audiences with its poignant storytelling and thoughtprovoking message.

Following its debut, the film embarked on a journey of community engagement and education through additional screenings throughout April,

with the Lamont teens on hand to answer any questions. These screenings provided valuable opportunities for dialogue, reflection, and action, sparking conversations about environmental stewardship and the importance of sustainable practices.

By watching “The Air We Breathe,” you educate yourself and become part of a larger movement toward environmental consciousness and advocacy. Your involvement, awareness, and actions shape a more sustainable and resilient world. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that the air we breathe remains clean, healthy, and vibrant for all.

“The Air We Breathe”
Lamont teens performing air tests in Lamont and Arvin area.
Lamont teens worked with members from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to test the air quality. Sunset Middle School students attended the premiere for “The Air We Breathe.”
Lamont teens demonstrated seed planting during their Earth Day Festival at the Lamont Boys & Girls Club.

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

Tina Cantelmi

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

Diana Gordon

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

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

10 BGCBrief|

A sense of community, belonging, and enjoyment are at the forefront of what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County aims to create for their young members and that is what esports is at its very core. Igniting enthusiasm among players, this initiative provides a platform for youth to engage in competitive gaming while fostering teamwork, strategic thinking, and sportspersonship.

As someone who’s made friends and life-long bonds, I feel that esports create a positive and supportive community for participating youth. I was fortunate enough to bring this new aspect of education and enrichment through the esports program when I had the opportunity to facilitate it at the Armstrong Youth Center. There I saw something wildly special unfold right before my eyes.

As the youth were learning the skillsets and tools for competition, they were coaching and supporting one another, giving each other advice, and becoming friends in minutes. It didn’t matter who was sitting next to whom, or what grade they were in, they were sharing the experience and growing. Along with that growth came tact, friendships, and personal development.

Finally, when it came to running the big

tournament event, they got to feel the joy of success. Playing on a stage in front of an audience. Hearing the cheers. Testing their skills against their friends who they were getting to know better throughout the week. And even though there can be only one winner, they all conducted themselves with honor and grace. They all finished that day stronger, excited to challenge each other again, to become better players, and to become better friends.

This new and exciting world of esports not only offers skills building, knowledge and social bonding, but it also creates a path for healthy lifestyles and potential careers. Parents can rest assured knowing their children are engaging in a structured, educational, and inclusive program that prioritizes skill-building and camaraderie. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do next.

As esports continues to surge in popularity globally, initiatives like this one are vital for nurturing the next generation of competitive gamers while providing a safe and constructive space for them to thrive.

Armstrong Youth Center members enjoyed esports during Spring Break Camp. Spring Break intersession members kicked off esports at Bakersfield City School District campuses.

Around the fun-filled classrooms of the local Boys & Girls Clubs, triumphant tales are often told, but some of the most profound are those of individuals who have traversed the path from “Club Kid” to Club Staff. Such stories embody the essence of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of the Club. Let’s meet Ruth Miranda, a beacon of inspiration whose own journey illuminates the life-changing potential that resides within the walls of a Boys & Girls Club and its programs.

Ruth’s adventure began in her early adolescence when she first joined the Boys & Girls Club at Emerson Middle School. As a shy and introspective young girl, she sought solace and guidance amidst the challenges of adolescence. The structured activities and nurturing environment provided by the youth program served as a sanctuary, offering her the support and encouragement she needed to flourish.

“It was my safe space and the lessons learned at the Club have helped shape who I am today,” says Ruth. “I was like a sponge, absorbing everything the program had to offer.”

Under the mentorship of dedicated staff members, Ruth blossomed, discovering her strengths, passions, and aspirations. She eagerly embraced every opportunity for growth and self-discovery. More importantly, she found role models who believed in her potential and challenged her to reach for the stars.

Fortunately, Ruth’s journey with the Club didn’t end at Emerson Middle School. Inspired by the profound impact of her mentors, Ruth felt compelled to pay it forward and become a beacon of hope for the next generation. A little over a decade ago, Ruth started working at the Club part-time as an Activity Leader while attending college perusing her life-long dream to become a teacher. Then after receiving her bachelor’s

degree from California State University, Bakersfield, she decided to continue to stay with the Club.

“It’s a part of me. It felt like home,” Ruth reflects. “I wanted to give back to the Club that was there for me as a child.”

After being promoted to Site Coordinator, and now, an Senior Area Program Director, Ruth currently oversees 42 schools with 6 direct reports. Additionally over the last two years, she’s also been leading “Career Launch”, the Club’s summer paid-internship program for teens to help prepare them for their first jobs. “Working at the Club has been wonderful,” commented Ruth. “There’s always a team behind you ready to support you and help you succeed.”

For Ruth, the most rewarding aspect of her work lies in witnessing the journey of transformation of other “Club Kids”– the same journey she once traveled herself. Ruth’s story serves as a testament to the profound impact of youth development programs and the enduring power of mentorship.

As is true with most great leaders, Ruth hasn’t been on this journey alone. Her inspiration and motivation are strengthened every day by her husband, Jorge, and her three children, Jorge, Lilyanne, and Vivyanne. “A simple smile or hug from any of them makes me the happiest person on earth.”

Ruth and her family enjoying time together. Ruth’s children sharing a moment.
Ruth and her family enjoy celebrating birthdays together.

Bakersfield, CA 93385 Return Service Requested

801 Niles Street PO BIN 5J

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