United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County CEO, Michael Baker

United Boys & Girls Clubs (UBGC) CEO Michael Baker sees an opportunity in the COVID-19 lockdown: When the clubs are vacant and skilled workers have free time, create a program for these workers to volunteer on infrastructure projects at the clubs. 

Social distancing has prevented many licensed electricians, plumbers, painters, and others from continuing their work in private homes. UBGC’s new program, Lend a Socially Distant Hand, presents an opportunity for these workers to put their skills to use for a worthy cause — improving UBGC’s facilities — while adhering to social-distancing requirements.  

Not only will volunteers feel good about making a difference, but Baker promises to “promote the heck out of your business.”

To adhere to social-distancing requirements, the program will consist of one-person projects.  Volunteers are sought for the clubs in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, and Lompoc and at Camp Whittier. UBGC will provide all the materials.

UBGC has multiple projects for landscapers, roofers, electricians, painters, and artists. An auto mechanic and a floor installer are also needed at the Goleta Club. Those interested can reach Baker at (805) 710-5040.

For those short on the requested talent but who have funds to donate, Baker urges that now is the time because of the financial need and because of a challenge grant. Like many nonprofits, UBGC had to cancel its spring fundraiser, which provides significant funding each year. Facility rental of Camp Whittier and club sites, another major revenue source, are on hold. As an added incentive, Jeff and Judy Henley and the Gerald W. Fackler Trust are matching all contributions up to $250,000. 

United Boys & Girls Clubs serves 3,200 youth in its after-school programs throughout the county and at Camp Whittier. Eighty-five percent of those served live at or below the poverty line.

While the clubs are shut down, UBGC continues to feed youth, providing members and nonmembers with safe, daily meal pick-ups at club sites, including on the weekends at most sites. In Buellton, meals are even delivered to members who can’t get to the Club. The clubs also serve as Foodbank distribution sites for the community at large.


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