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Setting Sail With Our Venice Partners
"It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage."
-- George William Curtis
On their final day of sailing this month, our budding mariners will be drilled on points of sail. Their hands-on practice and hard work will be put to the test in a sailing race against two other Clubs, San Gabriel and Venice. Whatever the outcome, we know our Club members will be winners for having experienced the value of teamwork and gaining confidence from their newly acquired skills.
Scouting Adventures in Malibu Creek State Park
Club Members Experience Nature with Troop 642
Thanks to Eagle Scout Candidate Jonah Rudner and Boy Scout Troop 642 for including our Club kids in their adventures! Throughout the months of September and October, lucky members participated in a series of scouting activities led by Jonah. They made two box gardens, planted vegetables, made leather satchels, learned about nature, and took an extraordinary trip to Malibu Creek State Park. The outing included a nature hike, educational games, a communal cookout, and a campfire.
The goal was to teach all the participants about nature, teamwork, and the joys of the outdoors through engaging, enjoyable activities. Mission accomplished! Jonah and Troop 642 would like to thank everyone who participated in these events, and they look forward to more shared fun in the future.
David Gonzalez Brings Passion and Experience
Welcome To Our New Project Learn Coordinator
David Gonzalez, the Club's new Project Learn Coordinator, has years of experience in after school programs. He started working with LAUSD as a playground worker, facilitating an LA84 Foundation grant to support youth sports programs, and was quickly elevated to Middle School Site Coordinator. David also served as High School Coordinator for a community-based organization. His last LAUSD position was High School Observer and Area Program Supervisor, where he managed program quality and compliance for more than 15 schools.
David is committed to providing a safe and nurturing after-school environment for children. His passion and experience are a real asset to Project Learn and the Club.
The First Teen Night is the Scariest
On October 27, 2017, Club teens took part in the very first Teen Night of the school year. The Torch Club converted the Art Room and Learning Center into a spooky Haunted Maze. Festivities included a Mummy Race and Fear Factor, Halloween Edition. The Big Room transformed into a dance floor where members showed off their moves. Students enjoyed food, drinks, and music, and they eagerly await the next Teen Night.
Annual Exhibit Showcases
Club's Artistic Talent
"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." -- Pablo Picasso
It's no secret that arts education is underfunded in our public schools. The Club works to bridge the gap and foster not only creativity, but problem solving, visual learning, and overall academic achievement through art, as well.
On Friday, January 20, 2017, the Club unveiled more than 70 works of art and 34 photos produced by art program participants. Pieces were created by fifty young artists from the Club and represented a variety of media, including water color, acrylic, multi-media, pastel and charcoal, pencil and photography. Attendees voted for their favorite entries and the winners will be submitted to the Boys & Girls Club of America National Arts Exhibit and Photography Exhibit.
Rounding out the event's celebration of the arts, Club members and emerging thespians Preston Salvador, Tiffany Juga, Ava Marie Perez and Alyssa Heard each performed monologues written by D.M. Larson.
Congratulations to the art contest winners:
Teens Face Off in College Knowledge Competition
College Bound Members Show What They Know
College Bound teens vied for a trophy at the College Knowledge Competition, but the real grand prize will be getting into college.
Middle school students spent the fall semester learning the ins and outs of the college experience. They learned the differences between the college and university systems in California, discovered ways to finance post-secondary education and were introduced to Ivy League institutions that they might not have previously considered.
Program attendees became masters at recognizing school mascots. As they sorted out their Bruins, Conquistadors and Banana Slugs, they learned where universities are located and gained a better understanding of college entrance requirements.
The young participants got to demonstrate their college smarts in the first annual College Knowledge Competition. Students from the main Clubhouse and Hale competed in a "Family Feud" inspired game where they wowed the coaches with all they have learned. Good to know the kids are paying attention!
Teens from Hale Middle School took the trophy, but they're all College Bound winners to us.
Red Cross Teaches Emergency Preparedness
The Pillowcase Project
Those who are well prepared rest easy.
On January 13, 2017, volunteers from the American Red Cross came to the Clubhouse, Blythe Elementary and Reseda Elementary to show members how to be ready for and respond to fires, earthquakes and other hazards.
The Pillowcase Project is an educational safety program aimed at students in grades three through five. Children learn the importance of having a communications and evacuation plan, how to recognize common dangers, and what they can do to prepare before disaster strikes.
Each member receives a pillowcase with instructions about how to proceed when an emergency arises. The kids decorate their pillowcases and are encouraged to take them home and fill them with their own preparedness supply kits, easy to grab and ready to go.
Keystone, Torch Members Give Back to the Community
Leadership Clubs Deliver a Thanksgiving Feast to Families
The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley recognizes Keystone and Torch Clubs, WVBGC's leadership programs, for their selfless acts of kindness and giving. Keystone and Torch banded together to sponsor Club members and their families for Thanksgiving. Teens worked diligently during the month of October and November to collect food for nine families of the Boys & Girls Club.
On November 18, 2016, Keystone and Torch Club representatives hand-delivered grocery bags filled with fresh 16-pound turkeys along with all the fixings (stuffing, veggies, mashed potatoes, biscuits and pie) to Reseda and Blythe Elementary, Hale Charter Middle School and the main Club site. We couldn't be prouder of our youth for taking the initiative to help families in need.
December 16, 2016, was a joyful event for all Club members, with holiday cheer and celebration marking the last day of school before the long winter. Parties at the Club sites featured music, games and festive decorations. Tables were spread with delicious treats donated by the parents and staff.
All the kids at Blythe Elementary opened their presents simultaneously on the count of three, generating a cloud of torn giftwrap and shrieks of delight. At Reseda Elementary, the older kids became Santa's helpers and assisted the younger members. Thanks to Farmers Insurance employees, the young members at our main site received personalized gifts, making the event extra special.
Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to distribute over 500 age-appropriate holiday toys including gift cards, make-up sets and Fun Mechanics Kits for our teens.
Thank you to the following organizations who provided gifts: Assistance League of the San Fernando Valley, ChiPs for Kids, Chaminade, Motor4Toys, Blue Shield of California, Councilman Bob Blumenfield, Farmers Insurance, and New Life Church of the Nazarene. Special thanks to volunteers from Farmers Insurance and National Charity League for helping us to wrap each and every toy.
Aspiring College Students, Save the Date!
FAFSA, Dream Act Application Help and a
Chance to Win a
On Super Saturday, January 21, 2017, the Club will open its doors from to assist families in completing and submitting FAFSA and Dream Act applications for the 2017-18 school year. Visit the main Club site that day to get your application questions answered by financial aid experts. Seniors who attend, submit their financial aid applications, and complete an exit survey will be entered into a raffle to win a scholarship for up to $1,000.
This fall, the Club's College Bound program helped 144 high school seniors from Cleveland, Chatsworth and Canoga Park High prepare for post-secondary education. Eighty-eight Club teens submitted applications to private universities across the country, to the Cal State University system, and to University of California campuses. The work continues in spring with community college applications. As the acceptance letters roll in, College Bound will help seniors secure financial resources and negotiate their next steps.
Sixty-one percent of current College Bound seniors will be first generation college students in their families. Making sure they have the resources and support necessary to navigate the often bewildering college application process is especially important for those families. Programs like College Bound can have a profound impact on the community, and the Club is dedicated to helping local youth succeed.
For more information about Super Saturday or College Bound, please contact the Club's College Bound Director Lili Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practice Makes Perfect
On October 25, 2016, College Bound members were invited to attend a round of mock interviews hosted by Tennenbaum Capital Partners. Along with BGC of Carson and Santa Monica, six high school students got to practice interviewing with two different professionals. As part of the program, College Bound participants brought two copies of their resumes and dressed in professional attire.
Our members took away valuable advice on presence, preparation and delivery. The interviewers gave them feedback on their resumes. The teens appeared to enjoy their "dress rehearsal" and the seniors are eager to apply what they learned to their college applications.
What's the easiest way to knock off your holiday gift list AND do a good deed for the kids in your community? Just shop through Amazon Smile. It's a simple and automatic way to support the Club every time you make a purchase, at no extra cost.
Amazon Smile offers the same low prices, selection and convenient shopping provided by Amazon.com. And for every dollar you spend, Amazon will donate a portion to the Club.
Collecting Plastic Bottles for Food
STEM Sustainable Greenhouse Project
With the assistance of Farmers Insurance representatives Raymond Cole and Delton Walker, Botany Club members are working on a gardening project that is sure to have a ripple effect on the community.
As part of our ongoing environmental efforts, Botany Club kids are building a greenhouse out of recycled materials to grow vegetables and herbs year round. We expect to complete construction of the greenhouse in January. In the process, members learn about responsibility and sustainability.
Beyond learning the actual science and practical skills, Club youth watch their efforts blossom and take hold. The goals is for them to take their new knowledge and confidence, and transplant that resourcefulness into in the community.
The Sustainable Greenhouse Project is one more way the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley creates a sense of belonging, builds strong communities, and plants the seeds for future success for America's youth.
Please Put an Extra Toy for a Club Kid
on your Shopping List
With the holidays around the corner, the Club is seeking donations of toys for our members. Please help the children who may not receive gifts at home by donating an unwrapped new toy valued at $10 or more for ages 5 to 17. Bring your toy to the Club by Monday, December 12.
A Note of Thankenstein to our Phantom Volunteers
The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley would like to thank all the behind-the-scenes volunteers and staff for transforming the Club into our annual Spooky Maze.
Representatives from Farmers Insurance helped prepare the Maze and manned game booths while Disney VoluntEARS plied their face-painting skills. Our little trick-or-treaters had a frightfully good time at a safe and caring Club.
Jan Sobel Retires After a Decade of Leading the Club
More than 600 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, “All good things must come to an end.” That is equally true of the career of Jan Sobel, who is retiring as the Club’s President/CEO and concluding her professional career at the end of this year.
She will be one of the honorees at the Club’s Great Futures Gala on November 18, at the Warner Center Marriott.
When she joined the CIub ten years ago, it had a Board of six members, couldn’t pay its bills, had a deficit budget, and served 800 members with a very small staff. The building was falling apart, with no heat, air conditioning, lighting, or decent bathrooms. Today, the Club boasts a Board of 27 business and civic leaders; enjoys a healthy financial situation; provides services to nearly 3,000 youngsters in a refurbished building; and operates a Teen Center and six school sites in addition to the main Clubhouse.
She says, “With the support of the Board, the staff, and our community, we have been able to turn this organization around. It’s been a long haul and I feel as if I have contributed everything I was capable of giving the Club. For the past ten years, I have devoted all of my energy into making the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley the best that it could be. I plan to retire and do some things that I have longed to do for many years. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like yet, but I have lots of things on my bucket list.”
According to Club Chairman Martin M. Cooper, “I have worked with Jan when she led both the Encino and Carlsbad (CA) Chambers of Commerce, and of course, our Boys & Girls Club. I have never found a harder working, more dedicated, and more successful nonprofit executive. Never.”
Cooper concluded, “Of course we will miss her, but we have begun a wide search, not for someone to fill her shoes, but for someone to lead the Club to even greater heights.”He said that he hopes many members of the community will come out to honor Jan’s career and her successes on November 18.