Boys and Girls Club combines with United Boys and Girls Clubs to provide more service
“We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s make this happen.’ ”
Those were the four words spoken between the presidents of two longtime nonprofits — the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara and the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County — that brought both organizations together as one.
The nonprofits announced their merger today.
From Carpinteria to Lompoc, every club will now operate cohesively as one organization — a move that is expected to cut down on operation costs in order to provide more for the kids.
The merger has been a work-in-progress for eight months now, and David Bolton, president of the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, referred to it as “a long, lengthy process, but a very beneficial process.”
“This would not have happened without the vision of both boards, the commitment of the board members, the hard work of the staff and the generosity of so many supporters that understand the benefits of having a boys and girls club in their local community,” Mr. Bolton said. “From Carp to Goleta, from Santa Barbara to Lompoc, the boys and girls clubs have impacted thousands and thousands of our youth.”
Mr. Bolton said that because of the merger, the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara’s operating budget will likely reduce to 20% on an annual basis.
“When your operation costs reduce, there’s more money to offer programs and scholarships,” Mr. Bolton said. “There’s such an important need, especially right now. Now, more than ever, the boys and girls clubs are going to be playing a very important role to make sure our youth do not take a step backwards.”
Now, kids will be able to walk into any club in Santa Barbara County and receive the same services. Mr. Bolton said it’s important for the clubs to be consistent and allow any person to walk in and feel like they’re part of something.
The combined boys and girls clubs will now serve more than 5,000 youth from Lompoc to Carpinteria, with 450 volunteers working together with the staff.
The Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara will continue to own its property and provide funding. But under the merger, the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County will oversee all operations.
Mr. Bolton calls it a “merger of two equals.”
“It’s really exciting that two groups like this can come together and become one,” he said. “It’s a good feeling when everybody’s together.”
Tony Vallejo, president of the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, was once a “club kid,” and his son was also a part of the club in Goleta.
“I know how important clubs are,” he said. “The fact that we can now all work together to be a stronger, more efficient organization means we can use those extra resources to help those kids. I think it’s going to be so good for the boys and girls clubs and the whole county to see us all working together to bring every possible resource to the kids in this community.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, located at 632 E. Canon Perdido St., is the first club in the merged nonprofit to open today. Directors from all the other clubs will staff it in order to learn how to navigate limited capacity, social distancing and all other protocols.
“We’re going to use that as an opportunity to make sure our staff knows exactly how to manage the COVID world. We’re going to have a very experienced and dedicated staff,” Mr. Vallejo said.
He added that the reopening of all the other clubs will depend on fundraising, and they need as much help as they can get from the community to “charge as little as possible for our kids to come to the club.”
The clubs will shift their focus to provide resources to the youth who have fallen behind in homeschooling amid the school closures.