The Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club raised more than $360,000 with both an online and in-person auction at the Hyatt Regency Valencia ballroom on Saturday.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who made a surprise appearance at the event, delivered a $30,000 donation to the club.
Attendees definitely dressed the part for the in-person fundraiser: The event, titled “Back to the Auction,” was a “Back to the Future” themed event, featuring a full-sized DeLorean replica of the one used in the 1985 film and had local dignitaries costuming as characters from the film, including Bruce Fortine dressed as “Doc Brown.”
The themes, costumes, steak dinner and more than 200 auction items seemed to do the trick. Mathew Nelson, chief executive officer of the club, said this was the most money the club has raised at a fundraiser in at least the past six years.
Nelson also said the theme had a purpose, to get back to the way things were before the pandemic.
“We’ve seen, with everything in the last couple of years, going remote, virtual, for a year with school and everything, is that the kids are still… going through the process of recovering from that,” said Nelson, dressed as Marty McFly. “Getting kids, you know, socialized and feeling good and safe about the world and connecting with others… there’s just a lot of things that kids face today… The club is all about providing a safe place for them, a second home and connecting them with caring mentors that they can turn to and guide them.”
Kids from the club corroborated Nelson’s story and said they really enjoyed being there and considered it a very comfortable place to be.
“You can make a lot of friends there and you feel safe,” said 10-year-old Juliana Manta-Torrez.
“Well, you make a lot of friends. There’s a lot of fun activities and a lot of things to do. You can do a lot of stuff. Various activities there. There’s sports, there’s a whole bunch of stuff,” said 11-year-old Draedyn Stasey.
The event was chaired by Pam and Dennis Verner, who costumed as Marty McFly’s parents during the film’s prom scene. The couple said not only is the club a safe place to do homework and participate in extracurricular activities, but it also is a place for kids to hang out with their friends, which they believe is important, especially now.
“Especially after the past two years, and the kids have been so isolated, not being able to even be in school. We all know that that’s affected… the mental health of the kids over the past couple of years,” said Pam. “So having them back into the club and giving them, you know, that social interaction is also very important for their mental health.”
“If we don’t take care of the youth… the youth is our future. More than global warming, more than anything,” said Dennis. “It’s the youth of this planet, [that’s] the most important thing on Earth and we have to make sure that those kids are getting raised properly, you know, where they can socially interact.”
The more than 200 items to bid on included a signed Michael Jordan jersey, assorted high-quality gift bags, and even a USA-made Fender Stratocaster, among other top-tier musical instruments.
Nelson said that 300 new kids have joined since February.