SOLANA BEACH — The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito (BGCSDTO) recently added an additional clubhouse to the La Colonia Branch in Eden Gardens, named “Casita de Gloria” after Gloria Castellanos, a BGCSDTO employee and mentor to the youth at the Eden Gardens location. On Nov. 5, a celebration honored Castellanos and all the volunteers who made the Casita de Gloria possible was held at La Colonia Park.Barbara Harper, local Del Mar resident and philanthropist, was honored by Castellanos for being the brain child and lead on acquiring the new clubhouse from start to finish. Since her time at the club as a leader in the community of Eden Gardens, Castellanos has seen the La Colonia program grow until a need for a new clubhouse was born.
Kirk Wenger and Danny King were also thanked for supporting the program throughout La Colonia’s growth, along with volunteer Kelsey Powell of DPR Construction, instrumental in building certain aspects of the Clubhouse.
“Seeing the children grow and reach their goals is very rewarding and fulfilling,” said Castellanos.
Castellanos joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito in 2008 as a Program Leader at the La Colonia Branch. Castellanos also established the teen mentoring program, expanding the reach into the Eden Gardens community. After spending three years with the Club, Castellanos was promoted to branch manager of both the Harper and La Colonia branches in fall 2011.
The new clubhouse, a temporary building is adjacent to the La Colonia Community Center at La Colonia Park in Solana Beach and was implemented to house the 40 seventh- to 12th-graders as a “teen” room. Until recently, the teens and younger club members were sharing the community center in one space for the growing number of after-school students.
Other honored volunteers included Katie Pelisek for the design and landscaping of the new clubhouse and soon-to-be garden at the La Colonia Branch; BGCSDTO Board Member Ron Coughlin from HP who donated eight HP computers; Board Members Ben Hamson, David Crean and Ron Coughlin for painting the entry way ramp and parents of the La Colonia youth who spent time and energy building furniture and helping with the landscaping and building the garden.
The neighborhood of Eden Gardens (also known as La Colonia), is one of the oldest residential areas in the city of Solana Beach and is historically a Mexican “barrio” community. The neighborhood originated in the 1920s by Mexican farmers who were hired by the owners of large ranches in Rancho Santa Fe. The Eden Gardens area in Solana Beach has seen a spike in violence and drug activity due to gang related incidences for at-risk youth and families during the past year. The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito is currently working with the city of Solana Beach to further establish our mentoring program, which includes a diverse group of positive role-models for teens through athletics, academics (Project Learn), and gang/drug prevention to improve the lives of the children, teens, and the community at-large.