Every summer for the past 40 years, kids and teens have entered the Boys & Girls Club of Venice for an active, fun, and safe summer.

This year has brought extraordinary challenges for the club located on the corner of Lincoln and Venice boulevards. Funding has decreased while the need for youth safety and development has risen.

With the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) not providing summer school programming on its middle school and elementary campuses, the club is at capacity for the summer, serving 400-plus children and teens daily. Determined to keep fees affordable for parents and caregivers, the club has set its summer fee at $28 per week, while other programs at the YMCA average $28 per day.

In addition to core development areas covered daily at the club, including education, the arts, fitness and recreation, and social recreation, the club provides breakfast, lunch and snacks to all members at no additional charge. This is thanks in large part to support from the L.A. Regional Food Bank program.

“Every year, we receive calls from families looking for an affordable, and exciting summer program,” said Armando Diaz, associate executive director at the club. “In spite of the challenges, we are happy to help fill the void in the community. However, it is extremely important for the community to understand that we need their support to sponsor children who can’t afford even our nominal fees to attend in the summer.”

In addition to activities at the main clubhouse, members get to attend specialty camps with club partners. Some of the camps scheduled include basketball camps hosted by current and former Los Angeles Laker players Derek Fisher and AC Green respectively. Club members will also spend a week camping in the Santa Monica Mountains, attend Dodger games, and visit museums and other points of interest throughout Los Angeles. Another popular program is the Fast and Fun Summer Sailing program, an eight-week program that teaches sailing, kayaking and water safety.

In addition to the numerous summer activities for members, the club has trained and hired over 30 high school students as junior staff members through the UCLA community-based work-study program. The jobs give many teens their first job experience and an opportunity to give back to the community.

“It is a very good opportunity,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a junior staff member who attends Culver City High School. “Some people don’t get this type of opportunity to get a job and work experience.”

Erikk Aldridge is the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice. For more information on the club,

please visit the club’s Web site at www.bgcv.org/, or contact Aileen Martinez at (310) 390-4477 or aileen@bgcv.org/.

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