VISALIA – Giving Tuesday may have grabbed headlines across the nation last week, but for a few local non-profits, the day after might be known as Cashing Wednesday. On Nov. 29, four local non-profits received a total of $65,000, the largest donation ever given out by the G for Kids Foundation, in a brief ceremony in the showroom of Nissan of Visalia on Ben Maddox Way.
Don Groppetti, CEO of Groppetti Automotive Family, presented checks of $25,000 to the Visalia Gindick Boys & Girls Club and Visalia Emergency Aid Council, $10,000 to the Visalia-based Golden State YMCA and $5,000 to the Happy Trails Riding Academy in Tulare.
“I asked all of these employees to be here today because this is really their donation,” Groppetti said. “We couldn’t do any of the charitable donations through the foundation if it wasn’t for their hard work.”
Groppetti said the foundation has been supporting the Visalia Boys & Girls Club ever since G for Kids was established by he and his wife in 2008 but that his family had donated to the club since moving here more than 20 years ago. Galen Quenzar, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Sequoias, accepted the check and said the money would be used to help the site continue to serve more than 450 children.
“These kids don’t have a lot of opportunities in life and often don’t live in the greatest situations,” Quenzar said. “This money helps create opportunities for those kids to thrive in a safe environment.”
In addition to Visalia, the Boys & Girls Club of the Sequoias currently serves youth in the communities of Visalia, Tulare, Ivanhoe, Farmersville, Exeter, Porterville and Strathmore. In 2016 BGCS reached over 3,500 youth throughout Tulare County providing them with meaningful mentoring with caring staff and participation in life changing programs. To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, or to support its youth-focused programs, visit the web site at www.bgcsequoias.org or call 592-4074.
Simon Helyer, director of camping for Golden State YMCA, said the generous gift of $25,000 will subsidize costs for low income children to attend Camp Sequoia Lake. The “Camperships” provided $100,000 in fees for children to attend the campground, which offers a family camp, music camp, skate camp, youth camp and teen camps along with a Counselor in Training program. The common features of each camp include swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain biking, ropes course, zip line and rock climbing. Each camp has trained camp staff and trained medical staff.
Another $25,000 check was given to the Visalia Emergency Aid Council (VEAC), which offers food, clothing, personal care items and household products to low income residents of Visalia, Goshen and Ivanhoe. The facility served more than 17,000 children in 2016. VEAC’s current food pantry was built in the 1940s to assist about 200 families, far less than the 1,100 families it now serves each month. Executive Director Liz Wynn said the 3,000-square foot facility has a leaky roof, inadequate storage space, no heating or air conditioning and it doesn’t meet current building codes.
“We are cramped for space,” Wynn said. “We are no longer large enough to serve the community so we are building a new facility.” Wynn said the money is part of campaign to raise $500,000 to construct a larger, more modern food pantry to meet the needs of a growing area. To donate to the VEAC’s building fund, visit veac.org.
Groppetti said his family has been a longtime supporter of Happy Trails Riding Academy as well. Leslie Gardner, executive director for the equine therapy program, said the $5,000 her organization received will help match last year’s accomplishments of providing 2,400 therapy rides and 11,000 hours of therapeutic work for children. “No child is ever turned away for their inability to pay,” Gardner said. For more information on the program, visit happytrailsridingacademy.org or call 559-688-8685.
Groppetti said he and his wife Shelly have always tried to give back to the community since moving in Visalia in 1993. But in order to ensure that the charitable funding continues in perpetuity, the coupled decided to establish the G for Kids Foundation in 2008. “We have many reasons for formalizing our efforts, primarily we felt the importance to show our children the need to participate in that ‘sense of community’, that feeling that makes our area such a great place to live, work and contribute,” he wrote in a letter on the foundation’s web site, gforkids.com.