Situated on the Malibu High School campus rests one of the true jewels of our community. Simply known as the “Club,” the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Teen Center (BGCM) bristles every day with activity, achievement and positive good vibes that reverberate throughout the complex.
Combining sports, education, diverse programs and social development has enabled the Club to produce quality young men and women each year, who move on to college more well-rounded, confident and prepared for the real world.
“We have this saying that, ‘great communities have Boys and Girls Clubs, and that’s what makes them great,’” said Kasey Earnest, Chief Professional Officer of BGCM. “What would our community look like if we didn’t have a Boys & Girls Club? We have a place where 120 teens go every day. This is a community organization filling a community’s need.”
Since its inception in 2000, more than 1,200 youth have annually come through the doors of the BGCM to play sports, learn, interact and develop friendships, and to be mentored by staff and student interns who have the best interests of the youth at heart.
New Boys & Girls Clubs have opened at Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Point Dume Marine Science Schools as a result of the success of BGCM on the MHS campus.
A $1 million gift given by Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore sustained BGCM to flourish for the past decade and beyond. A recent financial commitment of $100,000 by Jack and Kelly McShane has helped solidify the future of the bustling teen center.
The McShanes were recognized by President Barack Obama for their generous gift, and in turn, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Charitable donations have allowed BGCM to serve as a healthy outlet for pre-teens and teenagers to express themselves in a socially acceptable way, to increase the wellness of young kids by encouraging them to be active in sports and to enjoy academic improvement.
“Here at the Club, it changed me a lot, especially with my grades,” Josue Garcia, 13, said. “I like doing my homework here. They give me a lot of help.”
Kids from the sixth to the 12th grade converge upon the teen center from 3 to 6:30 p.m. daily to play sports, including football, basketball, soccer and skateboarding. Others spend time in the Learning Center, doing homework or being tutored by students from Pepperdine University.
One can even relax in the “Chill Room” and watch TV, play video games or shoot billiards.
The Club’s mission is “to significantly enhance the lives of all youth to fulfill their potential as caring, productive, contributing citizens.” Earnest refers to it as the “end result.”
“The end result is really a young person who not only walks out of our doors feeling confident, but has a real broader sense and understanding of the world that they live in,” Earnest said. “They can look at themselves and think, ‘How can I make a difference in the world? How can I be engaged in my community? How can I help others be happy?’”
Two student interns from MHS, Evelyn Alvarez and Caleb Gomes, are shining examples of the “end result.”
Alvarez and Gomes spent part of their summer visiting South Africa and working with a Boys & Girls Club in the town of Soweto. Together, they came back to Malibu having reaffirmed their commitment to the values they were taught and instilled with at the BGCM.
“As a high school intern, I’m mentoring middle school and high school kids,” Alvarez, 17, said. “You can just express yourself by making a smile and saying ‘hey’ to them. I just try my best to make someone’s day.”
“I’ve learned values that people have shown me that remain close to my heart. Every day I try to practice those values,” said Gomes, 16. “Be grateful for what you have. People who I met in South Africa had very little, but they were so happy and they enjoy life to the fullest. Even though I don’t have a lot, I can still be happy.”
Making a positive difference in the lives of others is one of life’s precious gifts. The BGCM reinforces that belief on a daily basis.
“It’s been an evolution of amazingness. When I started 10 years ago, I didn’t know I would be here for this long. Little did I know that this place would captivate me on a completely different level,” Earnest said. “I can’t even explain how blessed I feel to get to come here and be surrounded by amazing staff who have only the interests of making a positive difference in the lives of kids.”