LOS ANGELES, CA-Last fall, the Los Angles Chargers hooked up with the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Los Angeles in a multi-year, partnership that would provide capital investment for two of its facilities.
The $400,000 investment the Chargers and Bob Discount Furniture has engaged in with the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Los Angeles, has been implemented in two phases that will directly benefit the Boys & Girls Club Watts/Willowbrook Clubhouse and the Boys & Girls Club Challengers Clubhouse.
While breaking ground last year at the Boys & Girls Club Watts/Willowbrook Clubhouse, representatives from the Chargers and Bob Discount Furniture returned to the scene for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to highlight the noted improvements made at the South Los Angeles facility. The upgrade includes a new synthetic athletic field as well as a teen center.
Boys & Girls Club Metro Los Angeles CEO Calvin Lyons said the forged relationship with the Chargers is a win-win for everyone involved, especially the young people who stand to reap the rewards of the partnership.
“It’s exposure. It’s the opportunity that kids that don’t always get to see athletic teams invest in the community,” Lyons said. “We’re just not concerned about you coming or being a fan; we’re concerned about you being a good citizen, being educated and being in a position where you can serve as a continuous learner and a continuous developer of your own community. It’s exciting. You can’t beat it.”
After the formal ribbon-cutting, Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin as well as team cheerleader Madison spoke to students enrolled in the afterschool program. Benjamin’s teammate, defensive tackle, Justin Jones, paid his charitable dues by engaging in some fun physical activities on the turf-blended athletic field.
“It feels like being back in the old days,” Jones said. “I went to the Boys & Girls Club in Atlanta for a couple of years, actually. Just being out here feels like I’m supposed to be here like I grew up here. I feel like if a team came down to the Boys & Girls Club where I was at, I would have been like, ‘Dang, I want to be like them, too.’ It gives you another way or another opportunity to do something else.”
Like Jones, Benjamin, also benefitted from being part of the Boys & Girls Club of America when he grew up. He shared some of those memories with students in the Watts/Willowbrook Clubhouse teen center. For Benjamin, it was just a matter of translating what he learned to help the young people understand the importance of having the Boys & Girls Club in their community.
“Knowing that I was in their shoes once upon a time years ago, and telling them that I had been through here, I had been with the Boys & Girls Club, the learning experience, the people you meet in the Boys & Girls Club,” Benjamin said. “I met most of my best friends coming through the Boys & Girls Club. It’s a great experience for them; just come in here and enjoy these nice things that Dean Spanos, the Chargers and Bob Discount [Furniture] have donated.”
Chargers owner and Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos shared his enthusiasm on what the team’s monetary and philanthropic donation means for the young people living and attending school in the Watts/South Los Angeles community.
“It’s an investment in our future as well as theirs, obviously,” Spanos said. “They’re the future leaders of these communities, maybe states, United States. We have to give them every opportunity we can to be successful, grading these safe environments, giving them the opportunity to learn and grow, play sports and those kinds of things.”