Jeremy Perales says his work at the Boys & Girls Club of North County helps local youth learn to dream.
“Seeing them grow as people and trying to get them to do new things — all of that is definitely rewarding,” he said.
As the director of operations, Perales believes the local organization, operating since 1991, is important to the community.
The public will have a chance to see that Thursday during the organization’s first open house in recent years. It will feature art from local youth, slideshows and general information about its after-school and summer programs.
The organization, at 600 26th St. in Paso Robles, provides local youth with nutrition, homework assistance and social skills development. Perales, who has been there four years, said it’s in the little moments with youth where he sees the program's deep-rooted benefits.
“I think any day of the week something could happen where you can really see the kids grow as people and learn something,” he said.
The variety of activities such as playing games outside or developing cooking and gardening classes is also key.
“When we teach a gardening class, will they all grow up to run nurseries? Probably not,” Perales said. “But those activities build confidence and self-worth so that they’ll think highly of themselves when faced with the tougher choices.”
Community support is critical to its services, organizers say. The organization’s approximately $270,000 budget is almost all donations-based other than a $20 annual membership fee per participant.
Contributions come from private donations from individuals, foundations, corporations and grants from Boys and Girls Club of America, officials said. Monetary donations go toward the school-year program, currently serving 100 children in kindergarten through eighth grade daily from the time they get out of school until 6 p.m.
Participants are mostly from Paso Robles but all North County communities are welcome, Perales said.
“The children here don’t just receive assistance with their homework; we provide them with nutrition and mentor children to interact positively through conflict,” Chief Executive Officer Allen Reese said in a statement.
Including Reese, the organization has eight employees. The nonprofit organization was founded in Paso Robles in 1991. Its open house is planned for 5 p.m. Thursday.
To donate, send a check to P.O. Box 3037, Paso Robles, CA 93447. For more information, visit the organization’s website, http://bgcpaso.org.