Young People Need to Know Someone Cares
Nov 27, 2016 10:08AM
● By Elena Hutslar
Located in downtown Martinez is a little oasis for local youth called the Boys and Girls Club of Diablo Valley. The club was chartered in 1955 to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. It offers a safe place year-round for over 700 primarily at-risk youth, ages 6 through 18. The average attendance is 130 kids per day and they participate in hands-on art activities, computers, science, and tutoring and academic support. They also enjoy games and sports activities in the gym and fitness center.
Monday through Thursday the club offers Power Hour, a time when older kids help the younger ones with homework. The staff help, but they rely heavily on volunteers to tutor. Tina Busker, director of operations, commented, “Tutors come from everywhere including the local high schools, local service clubs and from the community - residents who want to give back in an educational capacity.”
Many of the club’s members are struggling and facing adverse situations including homelessness, domestic violence (witness to), addiction, and incarcerated and absent parents. But Tina boasts, “Here members enjoy a safe and positive environment to be themselves without threats of violence, racism or bullying. Our programs and staff help shape members to become productive and successful citizens and we expect 100% graduation rates.”
Upon arriving at the Great Futures fundraising luncheon for the club November 7, we were greeted by gregarious and self-confident children eager to introduce themselves, shake our hands and show us around their second home. They pointed out their art room, science room, and the many games and books they enjoy. My personal tour guide told me, “I love this place and enjoy my days here. If I went home after school I would just sleep because there isn’t anyone home or anything to do there. Here I work on the computers, dance in the music room and talk with my friends. I tutor the younger kids because I get straight A’s.” Another member shared her story to the lunch attendees. She spoke about the impact the club made on her, offering her a stable and reliable environment where she could look forward to going after school, and to focus on classwork. “I now have good grades and plan on attending college in San Diego. This club is helping me attain my goals.” Visiting the club left me with optimism and pride in our community and hope for our youth. We are fortunate to have an organization that offers the stability of a home we often take for granted and a place that instills a sense of competence and belonging.
Tuition for the club is just $24 a year. For youth living in shelters or foster care, the fees are waived. The club serves youth regardless of where they live. During the summertime they have members coming from Brentwood, Antioch, Pittsburg, Hercules, Pinole, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill as well as Martinez.
When asked how the community can help the children at the club, Tina Busker replied, “Donations of time, in-kind, or monetary gifts!” To donate $24 for a year scholarship, or other amount, please send to 1301 Alhambra Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553. Tax ID: 94-1333618. To volunteer, call 925-228-3896. Visit www.bgcdv.org for more information and to donate online.