Changing Lives...Changing SP: Boys & Girls Club celebrates 50 years

June 16, 2006
Santa Paula News

“Changing Lives...Changing America” is the centennial theme of the Boys & Girls Club of America, a sentiment that closer to home could be called “Changing Lives...Changing Santa Paula” in honor of the local club’s own 50th anniversary.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula Times“Changing Lives...Changing America” is the centennial theme of the Boys & Girls Club of America, a sentiment that closer to home could be called “Changing Lives...Changing Santa Paula” in honor of the local club’s own 50th anniversary.Fifty-years of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Paula was celebrated Sunday at the opening reception of the exhibit detailing the club’s history at the Santa Paula California Oil Museum.“It’s one of my favorite things...I like kids,” said Clara Behrens who was helping to greet visitors to the reception which drew former “club kids” and supporters.Mike Shore of the Santa Paula Historical Society worked with the club’s Barbara Kroon, who supplied much of the material for the exhibit culled from club archives and other sources. Jeanne Orcutt, SPCOM curator, managed the development of the exhibit that that features photos, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia about the club and its creation.The tribute to club founders and a timeline of historical milestones drew many who attended the club as youths, including three Santa Paula Police Officers and the founder of a famous cultural arts festival.Sgt. Carlos Juarez, Sgt. Ish Cordero and Senior Officer Jimmy Fogata were all “Club Kids” who remembered activities fondly.“I started at the club when I was ten or eleven and went until I was about 17,” and started working noted Sgt. Juarez. “The club was a place where I felt safe, where there was always someone looking over your shoulder” offering encouragement and support during an array of activities.Sgt. Juarez made a wooden shoebox for his father at the club a family keepsake.“The people coming in to see the exhibit are so interested,” visitors Molly King said included one man who saw himself in an older club member photo published in the Santa Paula Times and posted on the Internet.Although now known as the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley with clubs in Fillmore and Piru and a variety of satellite locations, the original program - founded by the SPPD”s Horace Dowell - was called the Police Boys Club.
In 1967, the late Fire Captain Bob Rushing led the fundraising drive that successfully led to the creation of the club as an affiliate of the Boys Club of America; his wife Wanda was among those who attended the anniversary exhibit celebration.Weightlifting was the favorite club activity of De Colores Founder Xavier ‘Big X” Montes.“I was about 13 and we’d go get the guy who didn’t want to show up...we really supported each other,” noted Montes.President of the Board of Club Directors Mike Mobley offered a welcome to “Friends, supporters and especially alumni,” as well as to former Club Manager Vince Burns.Kroon noted that the “Word that kept coming up” during the historical research was “hero,” those who “donated time, money and resources” over the years on the behalf of club kids.“I grew up at the club,” said Sgt. Cordero. “It shaped me for a career in law enforcement...”So it did, agreed Sr. Officer Fogata whose father was a club director: “I remember that with Carlos and Ish we learned how to play a good game of pool,” at the club. “In woodworking I made Dad a shoeshine stool,” like Sgt. Juarez’s shoebox now a treasured family memento.”The exhibit will be shown through Oct. 22.The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.For more information including entrance fees, call the Santa Paula California Oil Museum, 933-0076.



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