Lead sponsor Chevron Public Affairs Representative Sara Dearman, UBGC CEO Michael Baker, and Event Co-Chair Monte Wilson at a Rally checkpoint | Credit: Gail Arnold

On April 22, United Boys & Girls Clubs of S.B. County (UBGC) held its very fun annual Rally4Kids with 65 cars followed by a splendid Riviera Nights Gala with 325 guests. The events grossed $382,000, with proceeds funding the invaluable after-school programming UBGC provides to predominantly low-income kids throughout S.B. County.

After a casual party the night before for Rally drivers and navigators, the 65 teams launched from Deckers Brands in Goleta Saturday morning on a 150-mile scenic course. Challenges at checkpoints included feeding ostriches at Ostrichland U.S.A. in Solvang, using riddles in Los Olivos to find items to photograph themselves with, and doing a putting event at La Purisima Golf Course in Lompoc. At the finish at the downtown S.B. UBGC club, participants played one-minute dodgeball games, first against young kids, then against UCSB basketball team members. Trivia questions about sites along the route added challenges that went into the scoring. 

Rally Master John Demboski, who designed and then redesigned the course a few times because of damage to roads from the winter rains, shared how he enjoys “rallying” the local car enthusiast community in support of UBGC, which provides, according to Demboski, a home away from home, where kids are nourished, supported, and encouraged. Monte Wilson related how he and his wife, Maria Wilson, who together co-chair the event each year, love to support UBGC, which, he related, helps level the playing field for these great kids by providing mentoring, tools, and resources.

The gala featured an extended cocktail reception on the oceanside lawn at the Hilton Beachfront Resort, where a red carpet greeted guests and impressive rally cars were on display. Dinner was in the Rotunda, with Andrew Firestone emceeing and sharing his passionate support for UBGC. Awards were presented to Rally winners: first place went to Cobus Malan and Mark Huston; second place to Robb Francis and Faith Strader; and third place to Conner Rehage and Kurt Koenig. Firestone led the live auction and ask, then guests danced away.

In an interview, CEO Michael Baker shared a couple of relatively new initiatives at UBGC that are providing a huge benefit to the kids. Under the Zero Hunger Food Program, UBGC is now preparing a hot meal every weekday for kids at all its club locations.  

Pre-COVID, the S.B. Unified School District provided food to club kids through its Mobile Café, but with that program gone, UBGC now prepares the food itself in its commercial-grade kitchen at its Westside Club and delivers the food to its other club locations — downtown S.B., Lompoc, Goleta, and Carpinteria — which all have smaller kitchens that allow reheating.

For many of the club kids, according to Baker, this is their dinner and is absolutely essential for them. Food insecurity is a real problem, Baker laments, and UBGC is doing its part to combat it. Baker hopes to raise enough funds to upgrade and expand other club kitchens so the program can serve not just club kids, but others in need in the community as well.

Another relatively new initiative is its College and Career Bound Program, whose director Baker likened to a roaming guidance counselor, ensuring that each club kid is on track to graduate and has a plan for the future: trade school, the military, college, or a job.

Under the program, community members have come in to talk about their careers, and a job shadowing component has enabled kids to see different jobs firsthand. UBGC is currently seeking community members to come in to speak or to have a club kid shadow them at work. People in all types of jobs are sought to provide kids with wide exposure to career paths. “I want every single job represented,” Baker shared. It can be an invaluable experience for these kids, especially those who have been conditioned to think narrowly about the jobs they could hold, Baker added. Having the opportunity to ask someone how they got their job and learning what education is required for a job can have a big impact. Anyone interested in participating can contact UBGC through its website.

For a three-minute video about what UBGC is all about, click here.

Former mayor Helene Schneider, sponsor Montecito Bank & Trust President and COO George Leis, UBGC Executive VP of Advancement Laurie Leis, sponsor Tom Parker, and Karla Parker at the Gala | Gail Arnold

Adrienne Demboski and Rally Master John Demboski at the Gala| Gail Arnold

Sponsor BlinC Games Owner James Crook and Sponsor Milpas Motors Co-Owner Jim Crook  at the Gala | Gail Arnold
Sponsor Montectio Bank & Trust Chief Strategy Officer Megan Orloff and  Pete Williams at a Rally checkpoint | Gail Arnold

UBGC Board Chair Roger Aceves and Board Member Javier Quezada at the Gala | Gail Arnold


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