Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

VC Star – Teaching Kids to ‘be great’

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on January 20, 2010

Long before I was a professional football player, I was learning the fundamentals of the game at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. From the flag football games there to the fundamentals of good character and leadership, at the club, I learned to “Be Great,” to follow my dreams and to create something bigger than myself by giving back to the community.

Growing up in Oxnard, my parents always stressed the importance of education, hard work and doing my best. As a kid, I was not always the smartest, fastest or most talented, but I learned at an early age the powerful expression, “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”

Best place to be

I joined the club in elementary school during summer break while my parents worked full time. With great adult supervision in a safe and secure environment, the club proved to be the best place to spend my free time. There, I stayed sharp on schoolwork and also enjoyed games, activities and field trips.

My first foray into sports began in elementary school with a club basketball league. In middle school, my basketball coach, who was a club employee, formed Oxnard’s first traveling boys basketball team, the Hueneme Rebels, with players from schools across the Oxnard/Port Hueneme region. We brought many championship trophies back to the city of Oxnard, playing in tournaments in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

As kids, being able to come together with other kids from different schools, races and backgrounds with a common goal was one of my best memories. Many of the players have kept in contact with each other and have built strong friendships that last to this day.

I also joined the flag football team, playing in a league at Beck Park. Contrary to popular belief, I have not always been a “star” in football. Playing a year of flag football taught me basic fundamentals of the game and gave me confidence to play tackle football the following year.

It has taken a lot of getting knocked down and getting back up to help me grow and appreciate the football player I have become today.

While the club taught me game fundamentals, it was Port Hueneme Club Director Chuck Muncie who taught me the fundamentals of mentoring. A former NFL star, he had faced his share of trials and tribulations in life, but was dedicated to mentoring, encouraging and helping kids make smart decisions. I remember being in awe that he played professional sports.

As a kid, being able to interact with someone like him gave me a sense of hope that I could make it, too. The club and my parents helped me realize potential I didn’t know I had!

After growing up, I realized I could become a blessing in a child’s life, either directly or indirectly, as Chuck was a blessing to me. So, when my parents told me they had seen an article in the Ventura County Star discussing the club’s fundraising needs, I decided to return a small portion of what the club had given me. I now love going back and interacting with the club kids because I was once that kid in the club, and I realize they will be our future leaders.

B&G Club alumni giving back

As spokesperson of the Oxnard and Port Hueneme Clubs’ “Be Great” campaign, celebrating the opportunity and hope the Boys & Girls Clubs give youths, and inviting more youths to join and “Be Great!” I am just one of hundreds of thousands of club alumni across the nation whose life was altered in positive ways, and are now in a position to give back to our communities — another value we learned at the club.

I hope that Oxnard and Port Hueneme community members will join alumni like me to find a way to engage these children. Whether volunteering time, donating money or signing up kids as club members, the Oxnard/Port Hueneme community can join together to tell our children they can “Be Great.”

If I can influence one kid through my work with the club, I know that will go a long way and the cycle will continue. Great lives start here, and Oxnard and Port Hueneme are blessed to have the clubs in our community to produce the next generation of leaders aiming to “Be Great.”

For more information on the clubs or on the Be Great campaign, go to http://www.BeGreatOxnard.org.

— Keary Colbert is a free agent with the National Football League and an alumnus of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jan/16/teaching-kids-to-be-great/

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VC Star – Reach Out Through Mentoring

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on January 20, 2010

By Tim Blaylock

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Life’s persistent and most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” This year marks 42 years since our country last heard his compelling voice challenging and calling us to “make America what it ought to be.”

Over those years, we’ve seen extraordinary progress and yet our society’s continued challenges remind us where we’ve fallen short of King’s ideals. Today, 40 million Americans — including 15 million children — live in poverty. More than 3.5 million Americans are homeless. We lose too many young people to the evils of drugs, violence and hopelessness. We can do more!

January is national Mentoring Month. While programs such as Boys & Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters engage youths in positive and fun activities, mentoring also has a tremendous impact on education and graduation rates.

The evidence shows that students who participate in such programs experience improved grades, higher attendance and a more positive attitude. Further, they experience measurable decreases in alcohol and drug use, violence, skipping school and dropping out.

Research has also shown that programs that rely on volunteer mentors can play a powerful role in reducing drug abuse and youth violence while greatly enhancing a young person’s prospects for leading a healthy and productive life. Youths begin to believe in themselves and their capabilities when someone, who is not paid to care about them, believes in them anyway.

Being a mentor is the quintessential way to volunteer, and a meaningful mentoring relationship can last a lifetime. At Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, we understand the critical importance of volunteering and the impact one person’s time, effort and care can have on the lives of one, two thousands of others.

When you were a child or young adult, was there someone in your life — a teacher, neighbor, relative, coach, friend, or boss — who encouraged you, showed you the ropes and helped you become who you are today? That person was a mentor to you.

Thursday is “Thank Your Mentor Day.” Join many others in honoring an important mentor in your life. Find that mentor and tell him how much you appreciate him, or communicate by sending a card, e-mail or via a phone call.

Becoming a mentor to a young person in your community by visiting http://www.bbsvc.org or http:// http://www.positiveplace4kids.org.

Serve your community on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by deciding to become a mentor and by making a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters or Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Our gratitude goes to the people who are devoted to seeing our youths succeed in life. Mentoring Month is a special time to recognize their deeds and is also a time to encourage more people to become mentors. What you will find is that not only are you helping someone else succeed, but your life will be greatly enhanced at the same time.

It is our hope that the people of our community will take the opportunity to share their time and talents with young people all over Ventura County. Our communities are full of fantastic children who have the ability to achieve greatness, and dedicated mentors can help them unlock their potential.

— Lynne West is the chief executive officer of the Big Bothers Big Sister of Ventura County. Tim Blaylock is the chief professional officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme and a trustee with the Rio School District.

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jan/18/reach-out-through-mentoring/