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July 3, 2018 > Change creates opportunities at Boys & Girls Club

Change creates opportunities at Boys & Girls Club

By David R. Newman

Bob Glotch is a man on a mission. He has until April 2019 to raise four million dollars. To some this may seem like an insurmountable task, but challenges are nothing new to Glotch. As executive director of the San Leandro Boys & Girls Club, he gets tested every day. And he wouldnt have it any other way. It can be a struggle at times, but its a wonderful line of work to be in.

As part of a state administered grant called ASES (After School Education and Safety Program), the San Leandro Boys & Girls Club is partnered with the San Leandro and San Lorenzo School Districts to provide afterschool enrichment at 12 schools (10 elementary, two middle), servicing over 1,300 students daily. They also run a summer program with five sites and 170 students.

The non-profit also provides programming at its main facility, located on Marina Boulevard. Built in 1966, the aging building is in dire need of repair. Ten million dollars worth of repairs, to be exact. The Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation has committed four million dollars towards their cause, provided the club raise the remaining six million themselves. They have already reached two million.

The City has pledged $600,000 to upgrade locker rooms adjacent to the indoor pool, which they run and maintain. The club also receives money through three annual fundraisers ? a Crab Feed in January, the Ghirardelli Golf Classic in October, and their formal Gala in May. They have secured a few other grants as well, and are hoping that more investors respond to their cause.

As important as these structural renovations are, Glotch is perhaps more excited about the programming changes that have taken place over the past few years, thanks to Director of Programs and Operations Kimberly Pace. Gone are the pool tables and ping pong tables of yesteryear, to be replaced with innovative new activities. Says Glotch, ?We saw this as an opportunity and a need to reimagine what this facility could be.?

Through an intensive outreach effort, Pace has identified the needs of the children and their families and has begun implementing programs to address those needs with an initiative called Vision 2020, redefining what a boys and girls club looks like. In a major shift, they are looking to target more tweens and teens (ages 12-18), as well as seniors and community organizations.

They have partnered with Oakland Promise and the Life Goes On Foundation to offer teen programs that focus on citizenship and leadership. And Pace has started a middle school program called Horizons that helps students see the world in a different light by taking them on field trips and teaching them about music, film, and other creative ventures. Says Pace, ?The main thing for us is giving our families and our kids access to opportunities that they never would have had before.?

They are planning to create a Teen Center at their facility where students can work on homework, and a Digital Arts Lab for workforce development. They have already partnered with Hack the Hood in Oakland to provide web design classes during the summer at the OSIsoft campus in San Leandro. Says Pace, ?We?re right next to Silicon Valley, but a lot of our kids don?t know what that means in terms of opportunities for work.?

Another idea is to build a Makers Lab. The goal is to help local businesses by working together on real world problems. Says Pace, ?75 percent of our programming is about developing character through solution-based critical thinking, creativity, and social responsibility. These young people will be finding solutions to our future problems.?

While afterschool enrichment will still be their focus, they are hoping to utilize their facility during school hours as well by opening the space to community groups like the Rotary Club and Kiwanis. One such club, the interfaith non-profit April Showers, has been using their facility for 15 years to help the homeless.

Plans are also in the works for a community garden and an outdoor green space. Says Pace, ?They?re coming in droves. The excitement is there, the kids are there, the community is there. This will be a new youth hub for San Leandro that will change the dynamics of the area. People just want a safe, welcoming place.?

Originally, Boys & Girls Clubs were known primarily for providing recreational opportunities, and that will not change. The San Leandro gymnasium is the perfect place for basketball and volleyball games, as well as wellness classes for seniors. And recently, with the help of the NBA, the Warriors (many of whom are Boys & Girls Club alumni) dedicated a new space called NBA Cares Learn and Play Zone inside the club.

The San Leandro Boys & Girls Club has a staff of over 90. Many of them grew up in such a club and are looking to pursue a career in childcare or education. Glotch himself has been involved for over 39 years, and he is thankful for it all. ?We do our best to meet a child?s needs, whatever they may be. We have an opportunity and an obligation to make the time they spend with us the best time of their day.?

San Leandro Boys & Girls Club
401 Marina Blvd, San Leandro
(510) 483-5581

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