I’m amazed at all the posters that decorate the walls at the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah; they are everywhere. The more closely you look, the more you can admire the great work from some of the kids who attend this essential afterschool community program.
Each poster includes an important message: No Bullying, Be Kind, Make the Promise to Graduate. One of my favorite posters encourages people to “Stop Bullying – Speak Up.” It features a tree with leaves cut out in the shape of hands, and each leaf includes a kid’s name and their commitment to stop bullying; the tree grows from the floor to the ceiling.
In another spot, a “Be Great” poster quickly attracts your attention because of all the ways it inspires kids to be great. Be happy, be kind, be brave, be active, be strong, be creative, be smart, be healthy, be you; the poster says!
If someone asked me about the best thing kids can do after school, I’d say, “Anything constructive, just keep them busy!” I’d also be quick to share the statistics that teens and youth are three times more likely to use alcohol, marijuana, and other dangerous drugs if they do not participate in healthy afterschool activities, and they are two-and-a-half times less likely to graduate from high school. Frighteningly, the time when young people are most likely to fall victim to a crime is right after school.
In our community, the Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah is one of those places that supports kids every day, providing an environment where they can thrive. The club prides itself on being a safe place to learn and grow, all while having fun. The club works hard to ensure that every kid meets three goals: 1. Is on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, 2. Demonstrates good character and citizenship, and 3. Learns to live healthfully.
As you might imagine, low-cost membership fees alone can’t fund an operation like this—with top-notch staff and excellent facilities. Not by a long shot. These days, more and more kids need a safe afterschool program, which is stretching the organization’s budget like never before. This is where you can help.
This Friday, September 8 at 6:00 pm at the Alex Thomas Plaza in downtown Ukiah, the Annual Chili Cook Off will take place, with all proceeds benefitting the Boys and Girls Club. Just by buying a wristband and enjoying some of the sweetest, hottest, and tastiest chili you can imagine, you will directly help the kids who depend on the club for afterschool care.
As it has for the last 19 years, Granite Construction will host this fantastic event. With their support, local businesses and community groups will compete for recognition as the top chili cooks—and other fun awards like Team Spirit or Crookedest Team.
This annual event is successful because so many committed people and organizations—like Granite Construction and our local service clubs—donate their time to help. It’s a lot of fun for everyone, and proceeds from the event help assure the Ukiah Boys and Girls Club has the funding it needs to provide afterschool care for our community’s kids.
According to Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah Executive Director Liz Elmore, this event is one of the club’s biggest fundraisers each year, and a huge reason why the club can afford to provide such fantastic afterschool and summer programs while keeping membership fees incredibly low.
Please come on down to the Chili Cook Off this Friday night and enjoy one of our community’s best events! I hope I’ll see you there, because this fundraiser is most successful when we all join in. Buy an wristband, try some chili, and support one of Ukiah’s best organizations–our local Boys and Girls Club.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.