Greg Bouillerce is not only the executive director of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley, he was also once a member, participating in Clubs across the country as his family moved from one location to the next. Bouillerce shares his personal story annually at the Club’s UnGala fundraiser, the lively and intimate invite-only event held at William Hill Estate Winery, featuring live music, sweeping views of the Napa Valley, and Club members who readily share with attendees their personal stories about how the Club has changed their lives. In 2022, the UnGala raised $500,000 via its auction and fund-a-need paddle raise, providing a large portion of the funds necessary to keep the ever-expanding Club running smoothly.
This past year, the Club more than doubled in size, and the staff expanded from 80 to 180 full and part-time employees. Programs are staffed at a 20:1 ratio, and staff positions are filled by high-impact, passionate, and creative individuals from across the valley who help to foster kindness, relationship building, and social and emotional health. “Everything we do guides kids toward their best selves by embracing them for who they are and pushing them to be more,” said Bouillerce.
Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley (BGCNV) serves 2300 youth daily within its network, which includes the Napa Clubhouse, the American Canyon Clubhouse, Club 1515 Teen Center, and nine additional school-based locations. BGCNV’s mission is simple: “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” The word “Club” is often associated with exclusivity, but here, the term is defined by inclusivity. Every child between the ages of 6 and 18, regardless of economic standing, is welcome. The general membership fee is $50, with 100% automatic scholarships applied to any child who qualifies.
Each Club is populated by children from all walks of life. “We serve the children of farm workers and winery owners,” said Amanda Frances Fisher, BGCNV’s Director of Resource Development. “We serve the children of hotel, winery, and restaurant workers, but we also serve the children of CEOS and Executive Directors. The Club is unique in this way, as no matter who you are or where you come from, there is a place for you here. We never turn any child away due to an inability to pay, thus the importance of local businesses and community support and involvement. The UnGala event is our premiere event, but our need to be able to serve the youth of Napa Valley extends beyond a single event. We provide a safe, enriching environment in which teens and children can grow, while their parents work to create the magic and consistency of Napa Valley for our many tourists and visitors to enjoy. Simply put, BGCNV fits into the economic stability of Napa Valley.”
BGCNV proved a godsend for the Silver family, who moved to Napa during the pandemic without family support. “They saved us,” said Jed Silver, whose son quickly became a member of the club community. “My wife and I, both working, were in a tough bind; the stress they took off our shoulders is immeasurable. I cannot stress how amazing and nurturing the people and facilities are. This is not cheap daycare. My son was supported academically, spiritually, and socially. The staff was like family. I don’t know where we would be without the assistance, love, and nurturing provided by BGCNV.”
Every day at the Club is a little different, but during the school year, the afternoons are typically divided into three main segments: Snack & Social Rec, Homework Time, and Enrichment. “After a long day of classwork, we find it’s important to make sure that kids have a healthy snack combined with an opportunity to run and jump and play,” said Fisher. “During Homework Time (internally called ‘Power Hour’), time is spent completing homework and reading, and when finished, we play games that reinforce academics like PBL (project-based learning) and SEL (social and emotional learning), etc. Enrichment is time dedicated to the real magic of our Club programs: fine art clubs, athletic clubs, dance clubs, STEM activities, leadership, and service clubs, etc.”
Anyone searching for Jazmin Valdonivos on a Friday night only needs to look at one place. “You’ll always find me at Family Night Fridays at the Club,” said the Napa High School student of the program that offers everything from movie nights, game nights, relays in the gym, to field trips. “These nights might seem all fun and games, but the impact they have had on me is so meaningful. Friday night at the Club gave me a chance to be off the streets and to choose to do something positive. The Club allows my friends and me to put our problems aside and just be the big kids the for the night. The opportunities and the impact the Club has had on my life continue as the teen center has become my second home, and the people inside have become my family. This is where I’ve found my why in life, where I continue to stand up and fight for something bigger than myself.”
Teens like Jazmin and other youth need a safe and inspirational harbor that provides a positive after-school, holiday break and summer escape. With funds raised at The UnGala, sponsorships from local businesses, individual donations, and other fundraising, BGCNV continues to ensure Napa youth have that haven.
As the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley continues to expand, so does its need for deeper levels of support. For volunteer, employment, sponsorship, associate board, or donor opportunities, visit BeGreatNV.org.