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Boys & Girls Club celebrating 40 years in the SCV

Guests gather to remember contribution to youth

Posted: September 27, 2008 9:01 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Jim Ventress, chief professional officer of the SCV Boys & Girls Club, waits for guests to attend the 40th anniversary celebration held in the Newhall facility's gymnasium.

 

The year 1968 was a watershed year in the life of the United States — and for the Santa Clarita Valley. It was the year that Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. It was the year that the USS Pueblo was seized by North Korea, and in Vietnam, where the lives of nearly 300 American soldiers were lost each week, the village of My Lai was destroyed. In 1968 “60 Minutes,” a news program, debuted and Apollo VII, which circled the earth 163 times was, launched. In 1968 the Democratic National Convention nominated Hubert Humphrey in a violence marred convention held in Chicago where demonstrators in the street were beaten in a “police riot” televised live to the world. 
In 1968 McDonalds gave birth to the Big Mac, the first computer mouse was demonstrated and the Detroit Tigers won the World Series.

Much of the news in 1968 was far from good. However, in the Santa Clarita Valley, something extraordinary was about to begin.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Peter Pitchess saw a need to provide wholesome activities for the growing population of “latch-key” and other children with little do. George Pederson, a sergeant working in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Newhall office soon teamed up with Larry Margolis and Herb Oberman of the Department of Social Services to remedy the void and the Boys Club of Newhall-Saugus was born.

Four decades after the Santa Clarita Valley Boys Club opened its doors to the youth of the SCV, founders, supporters, volunteers and alumni gathered in the gymnasium of the Club’s Newhall facility to reminisce and remember.

What began as a “boys club,” soon evolved into a club for SCV girls and boys and now serves more than 3,000 SCV youth.

More than 130 guests enjoyed a reception held in the club’s game room where scrapbooks and photo albums from the club’s 40 years were on display. Newspaper clippings, photos and other memorabilia was perused by guests before they were seated for a buffet dinner courtesy of Hacienda Don Cuco Mexican Restaurant in Canyon Country.

The evening’s presentation included a video presentation of the Club’s history that included an extensive photo retrospective.

Guests to the 40th anniversary celebration each received a commemorative booklet that recounted the Club’s history and included a host of memorable photos. The 34-page keepsake program included a list of all the auction themes from 1972 to present and a host of other listings including the board and foundation presidents, boy of the year, girl of the year, youth of the year, board member of the year, volunteer of the year, Samuel Dixon award winners and special award winners.

A clever time line on each page recounted the significant events of the SCV Boys & Girls Club, mixed in with other history making moments during the last 40 years, such as 1970 when the Beatles broke up and the introduction of the first computer floppy disks.

“The SCV Boys and Girls Club has been very important to Santa Clarita,” said George, Pederson, one of the SCV Club’s founders.

Jim Ventress, chief professional officer of the SCV Boys and Girls Club, took the helm of the club in March 1985.

“I have seen the club grow along with the SCV,” he said. “I know how important the club has been to SCV youth. The club has been a second home to many young people.”

Helen Hicks, who attended the anniversary celebration, spoke to the guests and explained how important the club was to her life.

“I was headed down a bad road and the club offered me a lifeline,” she said.

Ivan Price, executive director of the SCV Boys and Girls Club Foundation, said he is impressed with the volunteer spirit that keeps the club going.

“The volunteers that the Foundation has recruited to help raise the necessary funds for the club are so impressive,” he said. “They are everywhere all the time doing whatever is necessary. They are truly a dedicated and devoted group of men and women.”

Among the many dignitaries on hand was Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar who said the Club has always had a positive effect on life in the SCV.

“This program has done much to make Santa Clarita a great place to live,” said Kellar, who served with Kathy Keysor-Smith as co-chair of the 2007 SCV Boys and Girls Club auction.

Tony Newhall, chairman of the first SCV Boys and Girls Club auction in 1972 said the event brought back many memories.

“This was a wonderful celebration commemorating 40 years of amazing growth of the Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “I remember how it all started in a little church back in 1968 and now ... to walk into the Carl Rasmussen gymnasium ... it was an incredible sight to see all the people and hear all their recollections.” 

The traditional anniversary gift for a 40 year anniversary is ruby. However, for the SCV Boys and Girls Club memories are priceless, too.

For more information on gifting or volunteer opportunities to the SCV Boys & Girls Club contact the SCV Boys and Girls Club Foundation, by e-mail at ivanp@scvbgc.org or call (661) 254-2582.

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