Valley Voices

This Boys & Girls Club started with a sketch on a napkin

The computer room at the Harris Farms Boys & Girls Club in Huron is a popular spot.
The computer room at the Harris Farms Boys & Girls Club in Huron is a popular spot. Special to The Bee

Sometimes a dream begins with a sketch doodled on a napkin. Someone motivates and inspires you to do something that is larger than your reference box of familiarity.

That is what happened in Huron. A group of west side producers and farmers – complete with their army of suppliers, vendors, and packing houses – have kept the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County rural club sites in Huron and Firebaugh in successful operation for the past six years.

The generosity of these folks each year is celebrated each May at Harris Ranch in a Spring Luncheon that raises over $100,000 each year to benefit three Boys & Girls Clubs.

So what does the napkin have to do with it?

In 2015, our Huron Club unit director was having lunch with one of the farm owners and talking about the conditions of poverty, lack of education, and unemployment levels that affect the children there. They discussed the value of the Boys & Girls Clubs and the need to serve even more kids in the Huron and Firebaugh clubs.

The kids being served in these clubs are from families of the farming community employees. So the owner asked, “What would a new Boys & Girls Club need, how big should it be, and what activities would happen in each room?”

And so at that table, the napkin became the sketch pad for a new club to serve more at-risk youth.

Amidst the worries of drought and farms without adequate water, the west side farming community from Firebaugh to Huron stepped up again at last year’s Spring Luncheon at Harris Ranch to help fund the new club, work with the city of Huron to find a club site, and begin construction.

The sketch became a reality when the new club opened in August 2016, like a shiny new toy for the children who had been watching it being built and anticipating what they would get to do in this new club.

The Club is now called the Harris Farms Unit in honor of the many producers and farmers that have come together every year in support of their community’s kids.

The Harris Club already has 120 members this year, with another 151 youth being served at the Huron Boys & Girls Club in the Fresno County Housing Authority complex and over 150 at the Firebaugh Boys & Girls Club. The napkin is now framed and is featured on a wall in the club to demonstrate that dreams can become reality.

These communities know that these three clubs create a safe place for their children to participate in positive and engaging activities in the out-of-school-hours when the parents are still hard at work and not home.

This year celebrates the seventh year we’ve had the Spring Luncheon at Harris Ranch. I encourage you to come out Thursday and enjoy great food and support the kids.

It’s important that the generosity of these folks gets properly acknowledged and appreciated for the level that they give back to their communities and the seeds of success being planted for the families of their hard-working employees.

Diane Carbray is president and chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County.