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Executive director Michael Baker and his wife, Marian Baker.

Gail Arnold

Executive director Michael Baker and his wife, Marian Baker.


United Boys and Girls Clubs Celebrates at Go For Gold Gala

Annual Fundraising Event Honors Nancy Weiss and Virgil Elings


On Saturday, October 22, the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC) held its annual fall gala in the Rotunda at Deckers Brands. The event raised $220,000 for its Outreach Program, which identifies and recruits young people most in need of its programs and overcomes any barriers to their participation. About 250 guests mingled on the patio, many donning Olympic-like medals after purchasing $100 raffle tickets to further support the cause. Guests then entered the Rotunda, which had been masterfully transformed into an elegant dining venue.

Executive director Michael Baker welcomed the guests and discussed the importance of investing in children’s education and development. He presented an award to Nancy Weiss, director of food services for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, for the healthy hot meals her organization provides through its federally-funded Mobile Cafe at the Goleta and Westside UBGC’s facilities each weekday. Virgil Elings was presented with an award for his enormous financial contributions to UBGC and for his advocacy work for UBGC over the years. A UBGC alumnus, Shantay Legans, shared a moving personal story of how the organization was crucial to his success. The evening concluded with dancing to the tunes of the Big Lucky Band.

UBGC has club locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria and Lompoc, as well as on-site programs at four schools. It also operates Camp Whittier, a residential camp just north of Santa Barbara. In 2015, it had 3,191 members and served more than 600 youth each day in its after-school programs. Each day, members participate in Power-Hour homework help and some type of fun physical activity. Also, UBGC partners with other nonprofits for programs in music, art, science and technology, and team sports. A daily rotation of activities is geared toward UBGC’s goals of academic success, good character and citizenship, and a healthy lifestyle. The organization’s statistics are impressive: 96% of members expect to graduate from high school on time and 80% expect to go to college. The $40 membership fee, which is waived when needed, comprises just 3% of total revenue.

The Outreach Program for which the gala raised funds is a new initiative in which UBGC partners with schools, pre-schools, childcare centers, homeless shelters, public housing entities and others to identify at-risk youth who would benefit from UBGC’s programs. UBGC ensures that any barriers to participation, such as an inability to pay the membership or transportation fees, are overcome.

For more information, go to unitedbg.org.

By Gail Arnold

Honorees Nancy Weiss, director of food services, Santa Barbara Unified School District and Virgil Elings.

By Gail Arnold

Guests enjoy dinner and the program in the Rotunda.

By Gail Arnold

Board member Melissa Gough and her husband, Bill Gough.

By Gail Arnold

Executive director Michael Baker and his wife, Marian Baker.

By Gail Arnold

Board secretary Peter Muzinich and board president Jim Crook.

By Gail Arnold

Director of Camp Whittier Todd Stepien and his wife, Jenny Stepien, co-camp director.

By Gail Arnold

Tom and Marcia Reed.

By Gail Arnold

Board vice president Eloy Ortega, Patty and Bob Bryant, Carole Self, Goleta City Councilmember Roger Aceves, and his wife, Debby Aceves.

By Gail Arnold

executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, Diana Oplinger and her husband, Ken Oplinger, President and CEO of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce. The Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara is a separate organization from the United Boys and Girls Club.

By Gail Arnold

The Big Lucky Band performs.

By Gail Arnold

Guests enjoy the cocktail reception on the Rotunda’s patio.



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