This article orginally appeared in the Desert Sun, December 2021
In 1966, Boys Clubs of Coachella Valley opened its doors, providing youth development programs in Indio. In 1992, the organization became a Boys & Girls Club with clubhouses in Indio, La Quinta, Coachella, and Mecca as well as three school sites. In a normal year, the organization has more than 6,000 children who are members and touches an additional 2,400 kids through outreach.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Boys & Girls Clubs made major adjustments on the fly, creating a strong online presence through its Virtual Clubhouse. The organization also hired a teacher and became a distance learning center, giving children a place to connect to their schools through the Internet and to help with their homework.
“Kids need a place where they feel nurtured and supported and have a safe place to dream,” the organization’s President and CEO, Quinton Egson said. “We have to make sure we have pockets of hope for kids. They are too important to lose.”
As the clubhouses have opened back up, the organization has introduced programs to help staff talk kids through these ongoing trying times. Through the national organization, staff participated in online training, teaching them how to answer hard questions about the current times and what the future may look like. The future of youth and their success is a core component of all the organization’s programming.
The education and career programs that are integrated into the organization’s offerings are designed to ensure that all Club members advance to the next grade level and graduate from high school on time. The organization also has a robust college scholarship program that funds four years of schooling in partnership with OneFuture Coachella Valley. Whether children go on to college, vocational training, the military or join the workforce, mentoring and programs help them to embrace and achieve a successful future.
Ten years ago, when the organization was first opening the Mecca Clubhouse, Egson met with a group of Club members and asked who among them was planning to go to college. None of the children had considered college, mainly because they didn’t think it was possible. Now there are 70 kids from the Clubhouse who have gone on to pursue higher education.
“One of our kids who was a boxer in Mecca went to Chico State,” Egson said. “Now she’s working for Prime Time and she’s her dad’s boss. We make sure they have that education piece, exposure, and have a path that leads to more success.”
Recently, Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley received a grant from the Coachella Valley Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization depends on donations to provide programming. Families pay only $50 a school year for their child to be a Club member and scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the cost.
Boys & Girls Clubs had to cancel its signature gala due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted its funding. However, with the help of partners and donors, the organization was able to weather the challenging years. Donations are welcome and those who wish to offer support can also attend The Grandest Auction event which will take place on March 12, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. The event will feature Ruben Studdard, American Idol Winner and a Boy & Girls Club alum.
“The takeaway from COVID is that we are here for a major reason,” Egson said. “We are going to stick to our plan and outlast any challenge no matter what. We will do whatever it takes to provide services for our kids.”
More information: https://www.bgcofcv.org/ or 760-836-1160