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Invest in Our Teens: Supporting the Future – Geovanny Ragsdale, CEO: Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley

Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley (BGCWV) is reaching out to you, seeking your valuable support. We are facing a pressing need to enhance our current facilities to better serve the growing number of teenagers in our community. Unfortunately, our Teen Center can only accommodate around 20 teens, which is far from sufficient.

In the recently concluded 2022-2023 school year, 108 fifth graders have transitioned and become eligible to join the Teen Center. However, due to our limited capacity, we are unable to accommodate them all. This year, we have a unique opportunity to make a significant impact by focusing on retaining our existing members as they embark on their middle school journey.

The ongoing pandemic has further exacerbated the prevailing crisis in teenage mental health across the nation. At BGCWV, we have taken proactive measures to address this issue by incorporating various Social Emotional Learning opportunities for our members. These programs equip them with valuable tools and skills for self-awareness and emotional management.

Extensive research conducted during and after the pandemic has unequivocally shown that our youth have been significantly affected. According to the Mental Health America (MHA) 2020 report, California ranks 33rd in terms of overall youth mental health among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report also highlights that nearly one in 10 California teens experienced a major depressive episode during the year.

Each year, BGCWV actively participates in the National Youth Outcomes Initiative (NYOI). In 2022, our teens reported a remarkable improvement in their ability to cope with anxiety and depression, thanks to the skills they acquired at the Club.

 – 95 percent of our teens self-reported avoiding risky behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, marijuana use, and fighting.
– 90 percent expressed confidence in standing up for their beliefs, even if their friends disagreed.
– 91 percent reported not being involved in any physical altercations in the past 12 months.
– 97 percent of BGCWV members affirmed being on grade level for their age.

Now, we invite you to join us in our endeavor to serve at least half of our incoming sixth graders this fall. Thanks to the generous MacKenzie Scott gift bestowed upon our Club in 2022, the Board of Directors has allocated $150,000 as a matching challenge. This sum will go towards expanding the BGCWV Teen Center. To achieve our goal, we seek to raise a total of $300,000 by December 31st. This means our community needs to contribute $150,000, which will be matched and invested in our Teen Center program at the Canoga Park space.

We would be grateful if you could take the time to learn about the various ways you can invest in our youth. Please feel free to contact either me or Kelly Ventimiglia to discuss potential naming or gift opportunities. Our aim is to secure the necessary funds to ensure our members can continue to thrive academically, lead healthy lifestyles, and become active contributors to their society.

Together, let us make a difference in the lives of our teens and pave the way for a brighter future.

GARY M. THOMAS CLUBHOUSE

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Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is a registered 501(c)(3) in the state of California and is permitted to receive gifts in Los Angeles. EIN: 95-4419365

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