Irvine Rotarian Marla Noel presents check to Travis Whitten.
Providing Eduction, Leadership and Opportunities to Children
Travis Whitten, the Director of Development for the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana, was a recent speaker at Irvine Rotary. Travis shared some surprising statistics with the club. In Santa Ana, only 50% of high school students graduate from high school. Furthermore, 65% of children are being raised in families which earn gross income of less than $25,000 per year. It is common for families to live five families per household to try to save on housing expenses.
The Boys and Girls club decided to change the Santa Ana graduation statistic seven years ago and their efforts are making a real difference in the community. According to Travis, it is critical to reach students by 5th grade and change their study habits and home life in order to put them on the rate path scholastically.
The club took a hard look at families in Santa Ana seven years ago and decided they could best help children by providing assistance in education. 900 to 1,000 students (mostly between the ages of 6 and 13 years) benefit daily by their efforts. Not only does the club run after-school educational programs at its 2,500 sq.ft. Santa Ana facility, but the club runs satellite mini-clubs directly on five additional Santa Ana school campuses. The club works directly with schools to become familiar with school homework assignments (by grade) and begins after-school programs with a “power hour” focused on homework. This is followed by other wonderful programs focused on everything from physical fitness to public speaking for children. Students receive the equivalent of 60 additional educational hours.
The club partners with 12 non-profit groups throughout the year to provide numerous services for its children. For instance, it has partnered with CHOC to have an on-site healthcare facility complete with a full-time doctor and nurse. It also has a relationship with Second Harvest Food Bank, that provides free snacks for children. It even has a relationship with the Anaheim Angels, who provide children with a visit to the ball park and the ability to walk on the Angels field.
Most people believe that the Boys and Girls Club is a city run facility rather than an independently owned non-profit organization. The club relies on donations as well as volunteers to run successfully. They are looking for mentors to work with children, either on a daily or yearly basis to help children with various projects and provide good role models. They are currently expanding to provide a program for teen students which will offer music, cooking and other activities.
Irvine Rotary member Marla Noel, who sits on the board for the Santa Ana Girls and Boys Club, encouraged everyone to visit the facility after school and see how efficiently it is run and evaluate the myriad of services provided to young children. Irvine Rotary is currently sponsoring a program to provide new and gently used softball equipment to the club.