Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Girls Inc. opens Goleta facility


With a dance studio, full-sized gymnasium, theater and library, one could easily mistake the new 20,000-square-feet Girls Inc. Goleta Valley Center as a spruced up public school.
But it’s not. It’s an after school school, where 300 girls from more than 20 public and private schools will soon be going to study, play basketball or just hang out.

And according to Monica Spear, executive director of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, too many girls have waited too long for the extra space, which has been eight years in the making.
“My heart just soars that we’re opening this,” Spear said last night during the center’s grand opening. “For so long they’ve waited.
“It’s a home away from home.”
The new facility, located at 4973 Hollister Ave., joins an existing Girls Inc. center at 531 E. Ortega St., which serves about 200 girls between the ages of four-and-a-half to 18.
Spear said the girls participate in an array of activities, from sports to regimented educational curriculum.
She said the girls are picked up each day from their respective schools and driven to the facility, where they remain until their parents arrive.
Though there has long been a waiting list to enroll in Girls Inc., Spear said the new center will accommodate a number of those girls.
Spear said no one is turned away for lack of funds and scholarships are available.
Jesse Crete, assistant development director for Girls Inc., said full price is $90 per week.
According to statistics Spear provided, 56 percent of the local girls enrolled in Girls Inc. come from families that have an annual income of $25,000 or less, while 47 percent come from single parent households.
The largest group of girls, 55 percent, range from ages four-and-a-half to eight; 36 percent are nine to 11 years old and 9 percent are 12 to 18 years old. About 67 percent belong to an ethnic minority group.
The center also offers programs during the summer, when the facility is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Crete said the gymnasium; dance studio and other facilities at the center will eventually be made available for other local groups to rent.
“People are biting at the bit to get in and we’re excited to share it,” Crete said.
Spear said 688 people donated amounts large and small for the construction costs, which totaled about $10 million, but there are still opportunities to sponsor individual rooms in the center.
Nancy Failing, the capital campaign chairwoman for Girls Inc., said the person who sponsored the library gave enough to hire a full-time librarian for one year.
“It’s pretty spectacular,” Failing said, pointing to walls lined with books and tables stocked with new computers.
Crete said an open house was held on Monday for the girls and, seeing their smiles made all of the waiting and hard work pay off.
“They were so excited. It just makes it all worth it,” she said. “The voices of the girls really helped fill the building.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article was very heart warming. I was an employee at the Goleta Valley Girls Inc. from 2003-2006, and the opening of the new center was always something I looked forward to for the girls of Santa Barbara County.