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Westlands Gifts $36K to Keep Mendota Boys & Girls Club Open

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Photo of Mendota Boys and Girls Clubs members at the 2017 career launch interview day
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There’s good news for the children of Mendota: Their Boys and Girls Club no longer is at risk of closing.
After Mendota Mayor Robert Silva addressed the Westlands Water District Board of Directors about the financial troubles the club faced, they stepped up with a $36,000 donation.
“We are so thankful to Westlands Water District Board of Directors for this generous gift to keep the doors of the Mendota Club open to children who rely on the services, positive environment, and diversified educational programs provided by the club every day,” said Kathryn Weakland, vice president of development for Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County.
“We are still working to secure permanent funding, but this will help us seek the right opportunities in the meantime.”

Operating Costs Are Rapidly Rising

Weakland explained that rising operating costs, minimum wage increases, and a lack of sustainable funding sources created big hurdles for the club.
There’s little doubt about the great need for the services the club provides. These include mentoring, arts and crafts, recreation, and nutritious meals.

Photo of Mendota Boys and Girls Club members doing arts and crafts

The club provides afternoon arts and crafts for members after they get out of school. (Fresno County Boys and Girls Clubs)

Club Has More Than 300 Members

The club serves more than 300 children, 95 percent of whom live in public housing near the club, Weakland said. Club members come from families with an average income of $16,000 a year. And, about 85% of the members have a parent or parents who work for farmers in Westlands.
Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, said the donation was a way of mitigating socioeconomic impacts resulting from the retirement of about 40,000 acres of farmland near Mendota.
The next task, Weakland said, is developing more relationships with potential donors and creating an annual club fundraiser.
 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email