By DENNIS D. CRUZ
Opening doors to great futures” is the slogan at the Boys and Girls Clubs and for the last five years the Boys and Girls Clubs of Stanislaus County has lived by that creed.
“I was 14 years old and was a member of the Boys Club and that’s when I was first introduced to the program,” President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Stanislaus County, Lincoln Ellis said.
The Stockton native has been a part of the club for 30 years, moving from participant to volunteer and leading the local non-profit.
Five years ago the Modesto office opened up and that is where Ellis spends most of his time. Prior to that he ran offices across the nation, and his love for the program and what it represents grows daily.
“If it was not for The Boys and Girls Clubs I would not be here today, and I truly mean that,” Ellis said.
The program helps children from ages 18 years and under build character, social skills, athleticism and prepares youth for their future.
“The Boys Club helped me get into college. Today we thrive on helping boys and girls grow. Our philosophy is ‘Every kid is good at something’ and it’s our job to find out what that something is and help them reach their potential.”
“The clubs are important to help build these kids’ confidence, and their potential,” Ellis continued.
With over 2,000 kids currently signed up in the 209 area code alone and growing, Ellis’s office and other locations in the area help make the environment for kids a positive one. Throughout the year the clubs have activities, sporting events, field trips and other recreational projects that help the kids grow.
“It amazes me how some of these kids grew up here and have never seen the Vintage Faire Mall lit up during the night time, or experienced the snow or the Pacific Ocean,” Ellis said.
This fall and winter the organization is planning a ping pong tournament, a haunted museum and more.
“Our ping pong tournament is called Battle of the Paddles. That is a fun event that gets a lot of the adults and other volunteers in the community to come out and play,” explained Ellis. “This is the fourth year of the tournament and it is held at the Modesto Center Plaza.”
Last year nearly 2,000 people showed up for the Haunted Museum on McHenry Avenue in Modesto.
In the late spring of 2018 The Boys and Girls Clubs joined forces as one big organization.
“We were approached by The Boys and Girls Clubs of America about having our facility as one of the main offices in the area. That was brought up to us in 2017 or so. Following that we began to merge with Merced and Stockton and got together and are making it work,” Ellis added. “We are all about making a larger impact in our community and having a great program for the kids.”
To become a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Clubs visit bgcstan.org.