Stories from The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley
The most important assets to The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley are our people. Be it our staff, our volunteers, or our members, we are a group of people who care about making our community as great as it can be. We are so lucky to have an impact on the lives of the kids and teens in our community and we are proud to share their stories. Visit this page regularly to read more from both our staff and members as they take their journey with our Clubs and tell us all about it!
Natalie G. – Director of Engagement for The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley and former member
Childhood experiences and memories are foundational to personal growth. My memories stem from my experiences living in three different states, attending over nine different schools, and meeting new people. The one constant that has been in my life was attending the Boys & Girls Club.
When I first moved to Thousand Oaks, there was no after school program for middle school students in the area for the surrounding three middle schools. My mother was a single parent working full time to support my two brothers and myself. During that time, the Boys & Girls Club was in the works of being chartered but needed support from community members and parents.
In 2000, my mom attended the city council meeting and spoke on behalf of working single parents in the area who desperately needed a safe place for their kids to go after school. Three years later, the Marion & John E Anderson Youth Center was established at Los Cerritos Middle School. At the time, I was attending the middle school about 3 miles away, and took public transportation to attend the club after school. The club exposed me to career launch programs, leadership activities, and a chance to participant in community service. I found that the club was more than a place to go after school but a second home with a family I can rely on.
I stayed connected to the club all throughout high school and volunteered my time after school with tutoring help for younger members. I found myself attending community college after high school and decided to apply as a Program Assistant. I enjoyed working in the field of youth development and pursued the Club Coordinator position. I soon transferred to Santa Barbara and UC Merced, where I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. I came back to the club and worked my way to be a Club Director, overseeing my own club site in Calabasas.
Today, I carry the knowledge and experiences from my childhood and education to my professional work as Director of Engagement for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley. I am able to combine my passion for helping others, while bringing awareness to future donors about the important work our clubs do throughout the community. Our club truly makes a positive impact in our members and their families. Great futures truly start at the clubs!
Iverson R – Current member of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley
What does the Boys & Girls Club mean to me? The Boys and Girls Club means a great deal to me. The Club is a great place to hang out with friends thanks to the fun games, the cool decorations and the very nice staff who are happy to be with you. One of my favorite things at the Boys and Girls Club are the activities they plan to make the Club a better place, including the fun field trips. Also, the Boys and Girls Club is always open on the school breaks so we can come and have some fun instead of staying home.
However, for me, the Club is more than just a place to hang out. The Club has changed my way of living and turned me into who I am today. For example, when I came to the United States in 6th grade, I did not speak English. Going to the Club helped me learn English fast thanks to the staff helping me make friends and practice my English. The Boys and Girls Club made it possible for me to achieve one of my goals of getting good grades by helping me with my homework with a lot of patience and calm. I was having a hard time getting things finished since I was still learning to speak English. The staff members explained things to me very well without needing a translator. They also motivated me to keep working hard since I wanted to give up all the time because of my lack of English knowledge and patience. Clearly, the Staff members at the Boys and Girls Club are what makes the club a great place to be thanks to the love and patience they have for the students.
The Boys and Girls Club also means a lot to me because I have made memories with the staff and my friends which have changed my character. There are some memories I won’t forget, both happy and sad, including the death of Ro, one of our staff when I was in 6th grade who meant a lot to me. Ro motivated me in the art of music and was the nicest person I have ever met in my life. Also, the day Nate left for another job has marked me because he was loved by everyone and was always there when we needed him. Nate meant a lot to me since he helped with both my homework and problems that were going on my life. In addition, as my first ukulele teacher, he inspired me to master the beautiful sound of the ukulele. Thanks to him, I improved my English language, learned a new instrument, and became a leader at school which helped me create the Ukulele Chord Club where I teach other students how to play the ukulele so they can have fun learning songs they like and making new friends.
Thanks to the Boys & Girls Club, I have become more confident and tried to help in my community. I am involved in a leadership group named WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) at Colina where we try to make our school a better place for others who need help to adapt to the new environment. We also support students who are victims of bullying, the ones who are shy and need help to make friends, and the ones who are struggling in school. We fight to make our school a fun and safe community for everyone.
The confidence I got from going to the Club helped me become a better mentor. The Boys and Girls Club changes everyone who goes there, thanks to the kind staff members we have at our Johnson Club. The memories and experiences I have from the Boys & Girls Club have brought me to where I am today: from a shy English beginner to a strong student and a great leader. The Club has given me hope for my future dream of being the first in my family to go to college.
Michelle H – Current member of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley
I began my first year at the Boys and Girls Club in the summer of 2010. I was nine years old, and my best friends’ parents and my mother made the choice to sign my friends and l up for summer camp at the Boys and Girls Club because we were growing out of the day care camp that we had attended since kindergarten. In the beginning, the adjustment to the Boys and Girls Club was more difficult for me than it was for my friends because the surroundings and atmosphere were new to me; my friends, however, had older siblings that had already been at the club and were able to fit in instantly.
Despite a rocky start at the club, I grew to enjoy spending my time there because there were many fun activities and exciting travel camps. Furthermore, the director and staff were nice, and they always made me feel welcome. By the end of that summer, I had adapted to the new environment and had such a great time at the Boys and Girls Club that I decided to return to the Club the following summers and after school.
I have now been with the club for almost eight years. In addition to summer camps, I attended the after school program offered at the club during my middle school years. The after school program was very beneficial to me as it provided many educational and recreational activities. The Boys and Girls Club also had a tutoring service available during the Club’s Power Hour in which members were required to do their homework or study. The tutoring program was valuable to me because I was having a difficult time with my classes.
During my first year and a half in middle school, I struggled with focusing on the lessons taught in school. This was contributed to my battle with Graves’ disease at that time. As a result of my inability to concentrate, I needed assistance to get on track with school. Being at the club after school, participating in Power Hour, and getting tutored by the staff helped me tremendously with my academic success and resulted in a great improvement in my grades. It also helped me receive recognitions for Student of the Month, Honor Roll and six academic achievement awards in the last two years of middle school.
I have had a wonderful experience at the Boys and Girls Club over the years. I have made countless memories over the years as l have spent many summers at the club and after school. As a member, I felt the club was a great place for me to hang out with my friends and the staff. I continuously made new friends, and I found that the club provided great opportunities to meet new people. The friends and staff from the club are like my second family now. Everyone cares for and supports one another.