Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito celebrates 50th anniversary, Youth of the Year

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito has served the community for a half-century.

Coinciding with the nonprofit organization’s 50th anniversary, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito is holding its annual Youth of the Year Celebration and Awards on Aug. 5 at the Del Mar Racetrack.

“There’s a lot of pride in knowing that we’re the longest youth-serving organization in our community,” said Marineke Vandervort, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.

Founded in 1966 as the Boys Club of San Dieguito, the organization started with a boys-only club in a former motel building in Encinitas.

The club quickly grew from 50 boys to 150 members, with $2 dues per year. At the time, the club’s annual budget was $27,000, compared to today’s $5.75 million annual budget. In the 1970s, the growing organization expanded its membership to include girls.

Today, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito serves more than 6,000 members in San Dieguito and impacts over 10,000 youth across San Diego County every year to include seven clubhouses throughout Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach, including the Eden Gardens community.

“It’s a lot more than just the number of kids that we serve,” Vandervort said.

As a mother of two girls who regularly attend the organization’s programs, Vandervort said she knows firsthand the positive affects the clubs and programs have on the children and families the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito serves.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito offers after-school programs and activities, as well as summer camps and specialty programs in academics, aquatics, music and arts, athletics, volunteering and healthy living.

“We are really focusing on how we impact them for the better,” she said.

The fourth annual Youth of the Year Celebration will honor youth that attend one of the seven Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito branches, including Allred and Polster Clubs in Carmel Valley, Del Mar Club, Griset and Ocean Knoll Clubs in Encinitas, and Harper and La Colonia Clubs in Solana Beach.

One of the members will also receive the Youth of the Year Award, which acknowledges teens ages 14-18 for their achievements in academic excellence, community service and leadership. The award recipient will receive a $1,000 college scholarship sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito Foundation and will go on to compete in the local, state and regional levels for Youth of the Year, culminating in five regional winners meeting in Washington D.C. to compete for the National Youth of the Year title and a $50,000 college scholarship.

“It’s a way for our club and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to highlight the extraordinary youth that we serve,” Vandervort said. “What we get from their stories is how the club has affected them and impacted their future. We think that’s a really important story to tell.”

This year’s theme is “50 Years of Endless Summer,” referring to the surf film, “The Endless Summer,” which hit the silver screen the same year the club was established. Fitting with the theme, guests are encouraged to ditch traditional gala wear this year and opt for Tommy Bahama shirts, sundresses and shades.

The event will take place Aug. 5 at the Infield Pavilion at the at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, featuring evening horse races, cocktail hour, silent and live auctions, dinner, dancing and entertainment.

Proceeds will benefit programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. Last year the event raised more than $140,000, which organizers hope to surpass this year.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito or to register for the event, visit bgcsandieguito.org/events/yoy-gala

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