In the late summer months of 1977, F. Roy Greenleaf Jr. and his wife Beverlie moved to Yucca Valley from Orange County. Roy was a quiet, unassuming gentleman but was a man of many accomplishments. He was a man of vision with a self-styled ability to observe the needs of a community and to organize leaders for the purpose to meet those needs. One of the first needs he saw and met was the “Bank of Yucca Valley”, now the Pacific Western Bank.
Roy noticed as he went about his daily activities that many of the town’s young people were congregating in small groups and seemed bored with life. After discussing this with some young people he found there was not much for them to do, other than some sports programs and scout programs. He also found that there was a new era, the use of recreational drugs, mostly marijuana use at that time. So, in 1980, Roy approached school officials and discussed his findings and they also agreed the situation needed attention.
Roy had been a Rotarian for most of his business years in Santa Ana and there they had a very successful youth center they supported so Roy knew that they could be successful in deterring social problems among our youth. Roy joined the Yucca Valley Noon Rotary club in 1981 and the club was searching for a community project. Roy explained his findings about the local youth, the school officials meetings and suggested Rotary undertake a project to determine the need for a local Youth Center. The club agreed and began the project.
A committee performed a feasibility study, talking to young people in the community, using questionnaires at the local schools. The response was a very positive, so the club decided to move on with the study. An interim board of directors was formed using Rotarians and the Lions Club of Yucca Valley. They contacted youth centers in the Coachella Valley which provided valuable contacts and information, and they found that all these young centers were chartered by The Boys Clubs of America.
This national organization, with member clubs throughout the nation, were of high standards and the board of directors agreed these standards would provide the guidelines needed to establish and maintain the youth center this community deserves and demands.
In March of 1982, leading citizens of the community were invited to meet with the interim board and this led to the structure of the initial board of directors, who were elected and installed the first officers of the Club in April, 1982.
The board structured and adopted the Constitution, the By Laws and established the Mission and purpose of the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Desert. The structure was completed with the incorporation in August 1982 and recognition by the State of California and the Internal Revenue Service as a Charitable, Non-Profit Entity in January of 1983.
The board of directors then hired Al Mackin as the Club’s first Executive Director on February 16, 1983. The Club’s doors opened for business on March 1, 1983. The club held its grand opening ceremonies on April 7, 1983 and was recognized by many of our citizenry, along with keynote speaker Floyd Tidwell, the Sheriff of San Bernardino County. The club’s flag and flagpole were donated by American Legion Post 469 and presented by the US Marine Color Guard from 29 Palms Marine Base.
The club applied for a Boys Club of America Charter and it was granted in September 1983 and presented formally at our first annual dinner in January 1984. In the fall of 1983, the Club became a member of the Morongo Basin United Way. In the summer of 1984, Executive Director Al Mackin resigned to form a new kids club and our next Executive Director hired was a young man named Rob Parker, coming to us with experience as Executive Director of the Boys Club of Burleson, Texas.
The Club swiftly outgrew its original location on Yucca Trail and Deer Trail/Pioneertown Road, so fundraisers for a larger facility began with radiothons, golf tournaments and other events. The Club began a construction of their own new facility on a 2 ½ acre parcel next to Tri-Valley Little League Park on Little League Drive in Yucca Valley. The land was purchased with funds donated by Hi Desert Memorial Hospital, Inc and their Elsinore Machris Fund that it administers. The new facility was scheduled to be in use by early 1988. The Boys & Girls Club is still at that location today, in its approximately 10,000 SF gym and building.
The Club has membership open to all youth in the Morongo Basin. The Club originally allowed kids from 7 to 17 but now serves kids ages 5 to 18 (kindergarten through 12th grade). The Club is open to all, regardless of race, creed, religion, or economic status and still only for pennies a day. The club continues to rely on community partnerships to assist us with fundraisers, donations, volunteers and friends who help us keep the dream alive.
As the American economy hit recession in the mid-2000s, the need for our Boys & Girls Club became more and more evident. Since 2008, our average attendance for the year has risen by 91%, from 58 kids per day to over 110. Summer is even more astounding, as we have gone from 47 kids per day to over 125, a 166% increase!
As long as our community has youth, there will be a need to provide a safe, fun environment for them to learn and grow. We are happy to join with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, to enable all youth, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens!