The Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club hosted police officers, firefighters, school administrators, and elected officials for a free breakfast early Thursday morning. Around 175 public servants enjoyed eggs and bacon at circular tables in the club’s gymnasium. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the club is an organization that provides a creative and social outlet for kids.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley chose former Oklahoma state senator Brooks Douglass to speak at the For the Kids event. Douglass has worked to secure crime victims’ rights after he and his sister barely survived being tied up and shot by intruders in their Oklahoma home in 1979. Douglass said he watched the aggressors rape his sister and eat the dinner left on the kitchen table. The shooting left their mother and father dead.
Douglass said he had to deal with uncooperative judges and inefficient law enforcers in the years since then to ensure his aggressors — multiple offenders who were later caught – remained behind bars. He told the crowd he has dedicated his career as a public servant to legislating the “little stuff” that makes a huge impact on individual lives. For instance, after his own tragedy, he paid close to $200 to retrieve his car that had been impounded as evidence and $500 for his sister’s rape exam. Douglass reversed those laws and other similar ones during his 12-year tenure as state senator.
He’s since realized, “Changing the laws is not enough … it’s the culture that has to change.” Currently he’s working to constitutionalize rights for crime victims. “I did what a lot of people do when they aren’t sure what their skill set is … they run for public office,” Douglass quipped.
Dudley said she asked Douglass to speak because she was “shocked” and “inspired” after hearing him speak a few times in the past. A few kids also performed and presented videos they have made during their time at the Boy & Girls Club. The club accepted donations to help continue their mission of inspiring Santa Barbara kids.