Hundreds turn out to support Boys & Girls Club
Hundreds of people who support the work of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada filled the Pony Express Pavilion Saturday evening to celebrate successes and raise money for the club’s operation.
The 17th Annual Kids Auction & World’s Greatest BBQ featured an all-you-can-eat tri-tip barbecue, music by David John and the Comstock Cowboys and tables full of auction items.
For Frank Smith, who had just sat down to his meal, the success of the event is always indicative of how Carson City residents support their own.
“This is the most giving town I’ve ever lived in,” Smith said.
He said he supports the club for several reasons.
“Number one, they do good work. Number two, the kids need it, and also, we get to see where our money goes. We got to see their new building, and I’d just much rather give locally,” he said.
Roberta Harris said she tries to come every year.
“I think it’s a great organization. They give kids something to do after school. Obviously, I’m a mom, but I think it’s great that so many people realize the importance of the Boys & Girls Club,” Harris said.
Ron Encinas and his wife Margie said they appreciate the dedication of the people who serve the community’s children.
“It gives kids a good safe place to go and keeps them out of trouble. Busy kids are safe kids,” said Ron Encinas.
“It also provides a service to children who might not have some opportunities available to them,” said Margie Encinas.
The annual event is the only fundraiser for the club each year, said Chief Financial Officer Hal Hansen, so attendance is always critical.
“We really count on it,” he said. “We put all our eggs in one basket.”
Hansen said the club serves about 375 youths a day, with a total of 2,000 members – a number which reflects a 26 percent increase over last year.
He attributes the increase to the sluggish economy trickling down to parents who can no longer afford other programs, as well as to the fact that parents feel safer having their youngsters in the new facility.
“We are growing out the roof,” he said, which translates to a need for hiring more staff members. In addition, donations are down because of the economy, he said.
Hansen is proud of the programs provided by the club.
“We are not a daycare, we don’t pretend to be,” he said. “We’re a youth development program, and most of our focus is on educational support and help with homework, but also on prevention and dealing with the pressures of adolescence.”
Among the other offerings provided by the club are sports, computers with filters, arts, and a big craft program, table games, ping pong, foosball and a pool table.
“Parents like that they have a safe place to bring their kids. Safety is number one with us,” Hansen said.
Hansen said he was hopeful that this year’s fundraiser would bring in as much as in previous years, with more than 550 people in attendance. Last year, they raised $175,000, but the prior year, they brought in $350,000.
Included in this year’s auction was a 1989 Jaguar with only 89,000 miles on it and a chance to name a race horse owned by Mike Pegram of Bodines.
Some of the biggest interest, however, comes from people wanting to sponsor a child, Hansen said.
“Many attend just to stand up for kids. They’ll pledge $500 or more, and we’ve received up to $5,000,” he said. “It’s really heart-warming.”
Hansen praised co-chairs Jennifer Russell and Buzz Fitzpatrick, saying they put in a great many hours lining up restaurants and auction items and handling a myriad of other details.
He also wanted to give a shout-out to Clark Russell, owner of Carson Station.
“He has given well over a million dollars in the past 17 years, and he always flies under the radar. He’s always there, even during the hard times. He’s back there cooking tri-tips with his buddies. I just stay out of their way,” Hansen said.