Lifelong Santa Monica resident Phil Brock spent a good part of his childhood as an active member of what is now the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica.
Now he is in a position to give back to the club that helped shape his life.
Brock, 51, president of Studio Talent Group, a Santa Monica talent agency, also serves as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica Council president.
The Boys & Girls Club is a special place for Brock, who joined the club at age 11 when it was the Boys Club of Santa Monica.
His parents had recently gone through a divorce when Brock’s father dropped him off at the club one day after school.
Brock said he attended the club fairly steadily after school and helped volunteer in the various activities that were offered.
The club soon “became my home away from home,” where the interaction with other youngsters had a real impact, he said.
“You end up mentoring the younger kids and the older kids end up mentoring you,” Brock said.
During his time at the club, Brock says he participated in nearly every aspect of the club and earned his first work experience. Some of the positions he held include membership secretary, social recreation assistant, athletic department assistant and assistant librarian.
“I always knew that I wanted to teach and coach and it really cemented that in me,” Brock said.
The Boys Club of Santa Monica main branch opened in 1946 at 1238 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, and became the Boys & Girls Club in 1990.
The Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club serves youngsters seven to 18 years old and currently has a membership of more than 4,500 boys and girls from Santa Monica and other local areas such as Venice and Marina del Rey.
The club also has branches in Malibu and at all elementary and middle schools in Santa Monica.
Some new features of the main Santa Monica club branch include a new computer technology lab with 30 computers, and a sound studio.
Recreational activities for club members include table games, arts and crafts, a skateboard park and various sports such as flag football, basketball and soccer.
When attending the club as a youngster, Brock says he was able to see how the club served a “melting pot” of children from a variety of backgrounds.
“Money didn’t matter,” he said of being a member. “It came down to who you were, not money.”
Brock’s active involvement as a member of the club was evident when he earned the “Boy of the Month” honors and was a runner-up for “Boy of the Year” honors in 1971.
He said his early experiences at the club helped influence his love of teaching. After earning degrees from UCLA and Loyola Marymount University, Brock initially became an elementary school teacher and he also coached football and baseball.
While Brock began to experience success as a teacher and actor and later became president of his own talent agency, he says he never forgot the club that has given him so much.
When the opportunity came to serve as club council president in January, Brock said he was excited at the chance to give back.
“It’s nice to be in a position of power to help increase the amount of donations and help more kids in the community,” he said.
Many leaders have started out as a member of a Boys & Girls Club and a lot of them are still involved in the organization, he said.
Before becoming president of the club council, Brock served as a council member for eight years.
He said the council president position has given him a different perspective of the club’s impact on the young members.
“I get the opportunity to walk through the clubs and see all the good they’re doing,” he said. “To see the money go to use is a great thing.”
As Santa Monica club council president, a main responsibility for Brock is to lead a group of 50 volunteers who reach out to the community and seek donations.
Another key responsibility for Brock is to oversee the 30th Annual Benefit Gala for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, scheduled Thursday, November 10th, at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Ave.
The Benefit Gala, which includes a dinner, an auction and a raffle, provides “visibility” for the club and is the largest single fundraiser, he said. The goal at this year’s event is to raise about $300,000, he said.
The gala is an important source of funding for the club, but receiving funding from the government remains a main challenge for the club, he said.
“We have to compete with all the other programs that also need money,” Brock said.
With his role as club council president, Brock said one of his main goals is to increase the amount of donations and introduce more innovative programs to the club.
“The Boys & Girls Club gives children a positive place to develop and to be a part of that is gratifying,” he said.