Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

Boys & Girls Clubs receives $600k+ to help juvenile offenders

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on January 10, 2012

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme aims to reduce repeat crimes among juvenile offenders in Ventura County by merging two pilot projects into a new program. The nonprofit received $609,232 from the Department of Justice to create RAMP, a Reentry Aftercare Mentoring Program, which will provide mentoring to incarcerated teens in the group’s Juvenile Justice Facility program so they are prepared to reenter the community and avoid committing further crimes.

The projects’ objectives are to reduce recidivism rates by 25 percent or less during participation and 12 months afterward; recruit, train and supervise three staff members and 40 volunteers; and educate juvenile offenders with specific materials.

The local Boys & Girls Club was one of only nine organizations across the nation to receive the Department of Justice Second Chance Act Juvenile Mentoring grant.

“This grant is going to save many, many lives in our community,” said Erin Antrim, Boys & Girls Club director of program services. “Without programs like these, the majority of kids will be back in jail within a couple of years of release, the beginning of a very vicious cycle. We are grateful to the Department of Justice for recognizing the amazing potential within each of our community’s children so they can rise above their past to create a bright future.”

One of the club’s pilot projects, Targeted Reentry Program, proved especially successful with only 15 percent of 97 teens in the program incarcerated again. With a focus on preventing repeat crimes and ensuring the safety of the community, RAMP will incorporate work from both pilot projects, partnering with the Ventura County Probation Agency, Palmer Drug and Alcohol Program and City Impact. The program will include a deputy probation officer, staff case mentors and volunteer mentors to offer one-on-one mentoring, group workshops and group educational opportunities. RAMP will take place in three phases: the facility phase eight to 13 weeks prior to release, the transition phase 16 to 20 weeks following release and the community follow-up phase for a year after release.

“For many juvenile offenders, the transition from being in a detention center to the community is a difficult one. Having caring adults in the lives of these offenders can make a big difference and enhance the chance for success,” said Mark Varela, Chief Probation Officer for Ventura County.

The club is looking for 20 community members willing to become volunteer mentors. They will receive 20 hours of training and will be matched up with a youth in the Juvenile Justice Facility. Volunteers must be age 21 and older, submit to a criminal background check and commit to at least two hours a week for one year. Volunteers will work with the teens inside the facility and in the community. For more information, contact Antrim at (805) 483-1118 x305.

“These kids are up against incredible odds when they try to get their lives back on track,” Antrim said. “Working together, we can give them a second chance at life.”

Signed into law on April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act was designed to improve outcomes for people returning to communities from prisons and jails. The legislation authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofits to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and other services that can help reduce repeat crimes.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme serves 8,700+ young people, ages 6-18, annually through educational, recreational, health and fitness programs. Clubs provide a safe place to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, life-enhancing programs, character development experiences, and hope and opportunity to the youth they serve. Learn more at

This story is contributed by a member of the Ventura community and is neither endorsed nor affiliated with Ventura County Star

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Raffle drawing surprises Oak View woman, three sisters

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on January 10, 2012

When an Oak View woman and three of her sisters pitched in to buy two $150 raffle tickets in the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme’s Million Dollar Raffle, they didn’t expect much.

Then came the phone call.

Maria Hernandez, a youth social worker, was in between sessions when she listened to a voice mail. Her heart dropped.

“My kids go to the Boys and Girls Club,” said the 39-year-old. “All I heard was ‘this is the director of the Boys and Girls Club’ and I immediately thought something was wrong. Then I listened to the rest of the message. I am still in shock.”

It turns out they won the first place prize of $10,000 in the Raffle’s early-bird drawing and are still in contention for the grand prize drawing in June.

The four sisters split the winnings equally and according to Hernandez, the money couldn’t have come at a better time.

Their mother, Epifania’s, health declined drastically last year, so Hernandez decided to serve as her primary caregiver. She and her three sisters, along with their five other siblings, found themselves paying not only for her care but also for her funeral expenses after she passed away in May at the age of 70.

Money had become tight.

In addition, Hernandez and her husband were approaching the due date for their commercial property taxes. They weren’t sure where the money was going to come from.

“It was amazing how it worked out,” Hernandez said. “I’m not sure what we would have done.”

The $2,500 cut also helped keep the opening of the Hernandez family’s new store on track.

On Saturday The Green Closet, an Oak View thrift store focusing on promoting the recycling and reuse of products, will open to the public.

“I try to teach my kids the importance of taking care of the environment and getting away from what I call ‘stuffidous,'” said the mother of four.

Her work as a counselor, she considers, her trade. But The Green Closet, and the Mexican bakery and taco shop she plans to open in the same building in the future, are her passion — her meaningful living a little closer to home.

A second-place prize of $2,500 was awarded to Jane and Vincent Lee of Burbank. Three $500 prizes were awarded to Oxnard residents John Koger, Rodney Wagoner, and Robert and Roxana Chappell. According to Boys & Girls Club officials, the Chappells donated their winnings back to the club. With a total of $15,000 in prizes in the early bird raffle, and a total of more than 205 prizes, the Boys and Girls Club extended ticket sales through June 8. Two more early-bird drawings will be held before the final drawing on June 11 that will feature three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart as the event spokesperson.

“We are excited and grateful for Tony’s endorsement,” said Dick Elzinga, chief volunteer officer for the club. “Our ticket sales need the boost and our club needs the raffle revenue to meet the increase in demand for our programs that keep children safe and on the path for success in life.”

More information about the raffle can be found at

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