Santa Barbara boasts pristine beaches, stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and an ideal climate. But it still wrestles with many of the challenges faced elsewhere in the United States.
Income inequality, food insecurity, and a high cost of living present a significant challenge for many people here, especially our immigrant community. And Santa Barbara’s youngest citizens feel it the most.
“Many parents in our community work three or four jobs, and kids are often left home after school and on the weekends,” explained United Boys & Girls Club Special Events Coordinator Tina Ballue.
Tucked into Santa Barbara’s Westside neighborhood, Boys & Girls Club serves children with daily after-school and weekend programming and summer camps. It provides a computer lab, free tutoring, a recording studio, sports activities, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of belonging. This is evident in the way staff refer to the children who attend as “members.”
United Boys & Girls Club’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
WELL reached out to Boys & Girls Club’s Westside Chapter and asked if we could partner with them. They invited us to join them for a “corporate playdate”, an afternoon of games and activities with their members.
Twenty WELL employees attended the event September 27, and each was paired with a Club member. High intensity games brought out everyone’s competitive nature, especially the adults. (Guilty!) It also provided an excellent context for embracing teamwork and affirming members in their drive and skills.
“I truly had an amazing time going to Boys & Girls Club. It was a great opportunity for our team to give back to the community, and it was a really rewarding experience to spend time with the kids,” said Kyle Sullivan, WELL Senior Business Development Representative.
The afternoon also included an educational research project where each adult-member team researched and answered questions about an assigned state.
“Many of our members don’t have an adult at home who speaks English that they can read to,” Ballue explained, encouraging our team to consider future volunteer opportunities.
“I was left wanting to do more,” said GiGi Gunderson, WELL Client Success Associate, “whether that’s sponsoring a Club sports team or visiting regularly to tutor kids. In general, for me, it was such a positive experience.”
This was WELL’s second corporate playdate with Boys & Girls Club. The WELL team also volunteers with United Way of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Food Bank.
“We moved the company to Santa Barbara because of its under appreciated talent pool and terrific amenities. We recognize that we need to invest in the local community to keep it just as attractive as it was for us two years ago, for the next 20 years,” said WELL CEO Guillaume de Zwirek. “Partnering with local nonprofits is a start. We’re also actively recruiting talented individuals with diverse backgrounds from our local community.” ♥
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Pamela Ellgen is WELL’s Health Editor. She began her career in community journalism at The Asian Reporter and later covered business at The Portland Tribune. She is the author of more than a dozen published books and a graduate of Washington State University.