A women’s pickleball group at the Goleta Valley Community Center recently raised $3,500 to provide shoes for the children of the Goleta Boys and Girls Club. They have also been teaching the children to play pickleball.
“I’m 64 and, like most people, I was devastated by COVID, locked up and lonely. I was invited to play pickleball and it was there I met Lisa Gonzales and was invited to join her pickleball group,” said group member Cheri Spencer. “The group of women at the Goleta Valley Community Center are special. There is a group of about 10-15 women that play pickleball. But there is a greater community, I probably have about 55 contacts in my phone from pickleball.”
The main building of the Goleta Valley Community Center is in the front while the Boys and Girls Club shares space in the back of the building.
“When I started playing pickleball, we noticed kids from the Boys and Girls club coming and going,” explained Ms. Spencer. “We realized that we were in the kids’ space. The space belongs to the Goleta Valley community. They are sharing their home with us. We realized we needed to integrate the courts and we could start with the kids. So we spoke to the director and told him we wanted to teach the kids pickleball.”
In order to play the game, however, the children would need paddles and other equipment. This led Ms. Spencer to get on the phone to friends and post on Facebook groups in an effort to provide the sports supplies.
“People donated cash or used paddles and we ended up with about 35-40 paddles. We told the kids the paddles and the courts belonged to them and we wanted to teach them to play and the kids started to pick it up. The ladies were good sports and very patient and kind with the kids,” said Ms. Spencer.
But the ladies in the group didn’t stop with sports equipment.
“One of the women in our group … had previously helped to provide kids … with new shoes through an organization called Shoes That Fit. Shoes That Fit has connections with name brand shoe suppliers. So we set up a click and donate page. I sent a message to people in my pickleball phone list again. It was all a very grassroots effort. We raised about $3,500 dollars, which is enough to buy about 80-90 pairs of shoes and socks. We bought about 70 pairs of shoes from the organization. This left them with some money to buy more shoes if they needed it,” said Ms. Spencer.
The ladies gave out the shoes on Thursday to the children of the Boys and Girls Club. Each child got one pair of shoes and five pairs of Bombas socks.
“When I buy shoes for my children, it’s not an act of charity. It’s what people are supposed to do for their community and family. You give them to all the kids. No one is singled out as being in need. We plan to do it again next year,” said Ms. Spencer.