The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica recently launched its Back-a-Youth campaign with an inaugural event, the Great Futures for Kids Breakfast at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
The event raised more than $50,000 toward the campaign’s goal of $250,000. All funds raised help support the programming for the BGCSM’s 4,000-plus members.
More than 100 guests attended to hear keynote speaker Azim Khamisa share his story about his only son, who was murdered by a 14-year-old as a part of a gang initiation.
Khamisa spoke about forgiveness, breaking the cycle of youth violence and how mentoring and other supportive programs leave a lifelong positive impact on young people and communities.
“Between 3 and 7 p.m., juvenile crime escalates. By providing positive programming to children during that time, we are working to help break that cycle of violence Azim spoke to,” said Tim Blaylock, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. “Our programming paves the way for kids to achieve greater futures and protects our community from the costs of juvenile crime and other support-related expenses—at a fraction of those costs incurred by taxpayers. We’re asking the community to come forward to help support children achieve their potential as caring, self-sufficient adults.”
During the event, guests were asked to consider sponsoring a youth at $1,000, which covers the annual program costs for one youth. Of the Clubs’ 10 sites, only two charge members a $20 annual membership fee; the others are free to attend. No member is ever turned away for the lack of ability to pay. Funds raised support Club programs that help children graduate high school and achieve self-sufficiency, along with learning strong character and leadership skills.
The event also featured remarks from Colbie Witherspoon, BGCSM’s youth of the year; Leilani Stopani, Club member; Paul Gaulke, board president; and Jason Meugniot, Club alumnus and board member. Deb Carson, an award-winning radio and television personality and national sports anchor for Fox Sports Radio, served as emcee.
Community members can contribute to the Back-a-Youth Campaign at the Clubs’ website, www.smbgc.org.