My husband and I are active members of the Merced community.
Full disclosure: Several months ago, we were contracted by the Boys & Girls Club of Merced County to provide them with public relations and marketing services.
I must admit, I really didn't know much about the club. I knew the overall mission and what the club stood for, but honestly, the only familiar aspect of the Boys & Girls Club was its national spokesman, Denzel Washington.
Once I started working with our club, I quickly realized this was much more than just a place where children go after school or during the summer months -- a reputation I feel many people seem to harbor.
Instead, I found numerous precious, intelligent, energetic, happy, curious and wonderful children. In short, I found a place in Merced that truly offers hope and opportunity to children who need it the most.
I met Tony, a kiddo who wants to be an inventor, and Aiden, who likes math and books about pirates. So many beautiful faces with so much to offer. It was at that point I decided to donate my time and resources to the club. And although their mission is to help all young people living in the Merced County area reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens, it's much, much more.
It's instilling confidence in these children and the belief that they can succeed, while at the same time providing the resources needed to open hundreds of doors of opportunity.
And while our club is doing a fantastic job doing this, it's no secret that Merced County is an extremely depressed area -- economically, in health and in overall well-being.
This means more Merced County children require the club's help -- strong mentorship, a focus on education and good health, a lifetime of encouragement and, of course, believing they can succeed, if just given the chance.
My compliments to the staff and board for their hard work and dedication, ensuring our community children succeed. Seeing is believing, and I encourage everyone to explore this hidden gem that offers so much to our community kids.
Hong, of Atwater, no longer has a contract with the Boys & Girls Club.