Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga receives a North Bay GIVES award
Name of CEO or Leader of the charitable efforts or your group: Trent Yaconelli
Their title: Executive Director
Company headquarters address: 1420 Tainter Street, St. Helena CA 94574
As an organization, there’s clearly a determination to encourage employees and the company to support nonprofits and their causes. In what ways is this culture embedded in your organization?
Our organization takes an immense amount of pride in fostering and maintaining healthy relationships with every volunteer, staff member, and board member.
Many of our staff are former Boys & Girls Club members, and have an investment in their community and the families we serve that can’t be replicated.
We understand the power that nonprofits, especially those that are relationship based, can have on individuals and communities. We actively look to partner with and support other nonprofits that serve their community, and especially those that have empathy for the people they are serving.
In partnering with these other nonprofits, it is a reminder to us that we all have something to offer to those that need us, and when we are connected it is easier to give help at every level that is needed.
Internally, we empower our staff to work on strong relationships with our kids and their families, and our programs are all focused on the emotional well-being of the kids.
Not only is building strong relationships part of our culture, but it is practiced at every level of our organization.
Our staff are tied into the families we serve, the administrative staff all foster healthy relationships with our floor staff, and our board of directors are kept in the loop on how these relationships are being fostered and nurtured. We are all connected to our community, and we practice this in our daily actions.
How have you and/or your employees seen the benefits of this investment in the company? These can be specific examples or in general from feedback you have received.
Especially over the past 18 months, we have seen that the community rallies behind our staff and organization when we work from the heart.
Children and families alike come to our staff in times of need, and we are a trusted resource in the community for more than just childcare.
In general, families often express their gratitude, and many come to our staff for emotional support, advice, and friendship. The benefits we see are in the trust we have built up with our community.
After fully reopening our Calistoga Clubhouse, our attendance has been higher than it has been since opening our site in 2017.
This indicates to us that our investment in supporting the community has paid dividends, families trust us with their children, and the children trust that we will provide a safe, fun, and emotionally nurturing environment.
As difficult as the pandemic has been for all of us, it has been challenging for families and young people. Describe some of the ways your group responded to the challenge.
Immediately after the pandemic began, we met as an organization to strategize about what challenges were unique to the communities we serve.
Children could not attend the club, but needed engagement, so we created interactive online activities and learning opportunities. We immediately began providing free mental health services to kids (and our staff), and also partnered with our local school districts to make sure we were aligned in supporting students who were struggling academically or emotionally.
When children were able to return to school and/or distance learning, we hired credentialed teachers to assist them with the challenges of distance learning and returning to school.
Given that our area employs a large amount of people in the hospitality sector, we also knew there would be a significant financial hit to our families, and started the Feed our Families program, which wound up serving over 40,000 free meals to families in kids in our communities.
We partnered with numerous local restaurants, including Charter Oak, PRESS, and Gotts, and also partnered with World Central Kitchen to distribute meals on a larger scale.
During all of this, the local fires also impacted families, and we wound up raising and distributing over $200,000 in monetary gifts to families who had lost their homes.
In short- we adapted as the community’s needs changed during the course of the pandemic, and did whatever we could to ensure we could support those that needed it most.
It was not the largest example of the work done by your group during the pandemic, but please explain how every clubhouse kid in Calistoga received a free pair of shoes.
While running the Feed our Families program, an organization in the Bay Area- My New Red Shoes, saw a story about our organization’s efforts and asked if we would like to collaborate in some way.
They were starting a pilot program where children in need could shop and select free clothing items online and asked if we would agree to become the pilot organization. We then helped facilitate 150 Boys & Girls Club members choosing a pair of shoes online, and having them shipped to their homes.
For some of our Club members, this was their first experience shopping online, and for some, their first experience choosing brand new clothing.
Overall, outside the pandemic, what is the greatest need for families and specifically children going forward in the area your organization serves?
Moving forward, ongoing attention to the social and emotional well-being of our children and their families is going to continue to be the greatest need.
Children’s lives have been altered greatly over the past two years, and many are still adjusting to changes in schooling, family life, and their personal relationships. Access to mental health services, a variety of healthy outlets, and opportunities for self-reflection and exploration will be paramount over the next few years as kids return to “normalcy.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs have a number of programs that will be focused on providing these opportunities, including a return to our annual teen retreat in Oregon where middle school and high school students are given the opportunity to work through issues through a variety of workshops and exercises, led by BGCSHC staff and mental health specialists.