On April 29, more than 250 supporters of the United Boys & Girls Club (UBGC) descended on the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for the concluding event of the Rally 4 Kids: the White Party on the Green. UBGC operates after-school programming for youth aged 6-18 at club locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Isla Vista, Carpinteria, and Lompoc and at three school sites in the County.
The rally began at the Polo Club and made four stops the first day along a scenic, circuitous route, including the Santa Maria Airport, where participants got the thrill of racing on a 0.45 mile six-turn handling track. The day ended at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach, where guests dined, partied, and spent the night. The next day included lunch at the Lompoc UBGC, where CEO Michael Baker gave tours and participants engaged in interactive activities with the youth.
The Polo Club provided the perfect setting for the elegant White Party on the Green. The 50 rally cars — Ferraris and Lamborghinis alongside mainstream vehicles – and tall white teardrop flags framed the dining area, which featured tables with white linens and white roses. Stylish white dresses, tops and trousers abounded. Much of the conversation during the reception centered on how much fun the entire event was and how amazing UBGC has become since Michael Baker took the helm two years ago.
Awards were presented, including First Place to Tim and Lisa Couch. Baker thanked Michael Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation for being the Presenting Sponsor every year. He also recognized sponsors and Event Co-Chairs Monte and Maria Wilson for their support from the beginning and for their incredible job with this year’s event, presenting them with the newly-created Michael and Anne Towbes Award. Andrew Firestone entertained the crowd while auctioning off novel experiences, like being a Ferrari pit crew member for the weekend.
Baker thanked the guests for their support, which has enabled UBGC to pay off the $800,000 debt that existed when he was hired. Support has also allowed UBGC to open on Saturdays, which is important not just for the programming but also for the meals it provides, since 97 percent of kids who come to clubs qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. Community support has enabled UBGC to extend its hours of operations, send staff to conduct recess programming at schools, and begin its outreach program, which identifies at-risk youth who would benefit from its programs and ensures that any barriers to participation, such as an inability to pay the membership or transportation fees, are overcome.
In summarizing the benefit of UBGC, Baker noted the value of the homework help and full range of activities provided by the club, but emphasized that it is “the caring adult role models that are surrounding these kids that make all the difference in the world.” UBGC membership fee is only $40, but it costs $1,200 to provide its services to each youth, making fundraisers like this critical. For more info about UBGC, go to unitedbg.org.
Send invites to Gail at email@example.com.
By Gail Arnold