Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Making a Difference in Young Lives
It is safe to say that the Coachella Valley’s vast eastside agriculture regions represent the highest number of underprivileged children from low-income families. If not for the invaluable after-school guidance programs presented by Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley (BGCCV) at its four east valley campuses in Mecca, Indio, Coachella, and La Quinta, most of these kids would certainly face a bleak future.
Thousands of children are served by the nonprofit annually. They are offered a safe place to have fun; enjoy free meals and snacks; participate in education advancement programs; arts and crafts instruction, a variety of sports, and computer labs. There is even a “four-year” scholarship opportunity obtainable through the organization for eligible high school seniors.
“Kids come to our Clubs for distinct reasons,” said Quinton Egson, President & CEO, “and they often stay for years because it becomes a life-altering experience. We provide productive programs for teens that instill leadership development, academic success, career preparation, and community service. Many of our fully prepared young people go on to college, graduate, and pursue their career aspirations. Some have even returned to the east valley to work in their chosen fields and lend community support to their hometowns as medical doctors, attorneys, CPAs, school principals, political leaders, and more.”
Recently, at the Mecca Club, members who are enrolled in the BGCCV’s ‘Smart Girl Program” also called ‘New Beginnings’, were treated to an encouraging talk by guest speaker and BGCCV’s alumni, Karla Rodriguez. Uncertain of her academic future as a child, Karla, because of the BGCCV’s incentive programs, was able to attend college despite financial challenges.
“The dedicated staff recognized my determination and encouraged me to apply for their scholarship program,” said Karla. “I was awarded the scholarship. It was a life-changing opportunity that enabled me to pursue my academic dreams. Looking back, I could honestly say that without this scholarship, I would not have been able to embark on my academic journey.”
Karla graduated from California State University of Chico where she received a major in Political Science and a minor in Ethics, Justice, and Policy. In addition, she obtained a Paralegal Certificate which equipped her with the skills necessary to make a meaningful impact in her community. She is currently a realtor with The Pratt Group in La Quinta.
“When I was offered the incredible opportunity to speak to the girls at the Mecca Club, it was an honor and a cherished moment I had long envisioned,” said Karla. “Being able to share my journey, inspire others, and offer guidance was a fulfilling experience. As I continue my path, I remain committed to empowering my community, advocating for those who face adversity, and providing support wherever it is needed. Through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley, I received the invaluable gift of education and opportunity. Today, I stand as a testament to the power of resilience, community support, and the transformative impact of investing in young minds.”
Youth Development Director Program Specialist, Sofia Saenz, who runs New Beginnings at the Mecca Clubhouse, feels the difference that this motivational program has made in the lives of so many impoverished young women, especially featured inspirational speakers, is invaluable.
“I’ve been running the New Beginnings program for over 10 years. Having guest speakers who the girls can relate to — like Karla — helps keep them motivated. Personally, this program has been very rewarding to me, as well. It allows me to be that mentor that I didn’t have growing up. It has given me the opportunity to provide support to many young girls going through tough times. Most important, it allows me to teach them the fundamentals of life from understanding the importance of education; how to take care of their physical and mental health; learn healthy lifestyles and relationships; how to communicate and realize self-love.”
To find out more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley and their youth programs, please call 760-836-1160 or go to www.bgcofcv.org
- Karla-addressing-Mecca-Club-girls: Courtesy photo
- Karla Rodriquez: Courtesy photo