“Every child deserves a great future and it’s up to us to make sure great futures start here,” said Pamela Estes, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.
Estes was speaking to more than 300 guests at Putting on the Glitz, the 14th annual Art of Giving Gala for the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. The gala was held at the Montage Laguna Beach on May 10th. Highlights of the evening included cocktails on the lawn, dinner in the ballroom, entertainment by Bling Divas, inspirational speeches, a live auction and dancing.
The goal was to raise $200,000 to continue to serve the hundreds of families who rely on the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. That goal was surpassed when more than $600,000 was raised.
In 2013, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach served over 2,000 youth, with an average of 294 children attending the club daily. 24% of those children were from single-parent households, and 39% qualified for free and/or reduced lunches. Also last year, the club served 7,202 free meals and 91,818 free snacks. Scholarships totaling $70,895 were given to club members.
Not all of the club’s services can be measured in numbers. In a moving speech, Orange County Youth of the Year Austin Willhoff described how the club supported him.
Willhoff’s family moved to the United States from Taiwan when he was five years old. He said the club helped him socially when he had a hard time communicating.
“Hans [the athletic director] took time out of his day to play basketball with me,” Willhoff said.
After his parents’ divorce and incidents of physical abuse from his father, Willhoff said the club helped him to heal emotionally. Willhoff’s relationship with his father has been restored because he said he learned forgiveness at the club.
Willhoff plans to attend the University of Oregon in the fall, with a goal of becoming a multilingual journalist.
“The club has assisted me in my life so far,” Willhoff said to a standing ovation.
Estes summed up the role of the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach when she said, “Our Boys and Girls Club is a second home and family for our kids.”