On Nov. 10th, the day after their annual Gala fundraiser, a safe containing approximately $6,000 in cash and other valuable items was stolen from the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante, CA. Obviously shocked by the theft, word of the tragedy traveled quickly through the Bay Area and Mike’s Auto Body stepped up and saved the day, by donating money to the organization and covering the loss.
Billy Zeier the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante couldn’t believe that someone would steal their safe. “We were riding a high after raising $30,000 at our ‘We Are the Children of the World’ fundraiser,” Zeier said. “It was a huge success after almost a full year of work, so all of us were pleased. But, then the next morning we find out that the safe was gone and we all just felt deflated.”
But then the phone rang a couple days later, when Sal Contreras, Sales & Marketing Director for Mike’s Auto Body was calling to deliver some very good news. “I was actually in a meeting when Sal called,” Zeier explained. “I told my people, I’ll call as soon as I get a chance and they said, no—you should talk to him right now. When he told me that Mike’s Auto Body was going to cover the loss, we were obviously ecstatic! What an amazing thing they’ve done for us! Mike Rose and the people at Mike’s Auto Body took a bad situation and turned it around. This is a great lesson for our youth, because it shows that some people really care.”
Sal Contreras is a Boys & Girls Club alum himself, so he knows the value of the organization and how it shapes young lives. “When I was growing up in Richmond, Ca, I was a member at the Richmond Boys & Girls Club,” Contreras said. “So, when Mike Rose called me and said let’s cover their loss, I didn’t hesitate for a second before making the call. Billy was obviously surprised and when we went there to present them with the check, all of the kids couldn’t stop smiling. The El Sobrante Boys & Girls Club is a great program and they really push the educational aspect. Staying in school is one of their main messages and that’s why many of their members have gone on to attend college.”
Ragen Ortland, Operations Manager at Mike’s Auto Body was happy to be in a position to help the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante. “When we heard about the incident with the Boys & Girls Club, we were appalled that someone would steal from a non-profit and especially a non-profit that benefits children,” Ortland said. “My father (Owner Mike Rose) told us that he wanted to replace the missing funds and we immediately agreed with his decision. This time of year is difficult enough and to have something like this happen can be very disheartening. We felt that replacing the missing funds was the least we can do during this holiday season.”
The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante was established in 1958 when a group of parents were concerned about the lack of facilities and activities for boys in the neighborhood. In 1998, the Girls Club, previously a separate organization located in the building next door, joined the Boys Club to create the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante.
Members participate in a variety of programs within the five core areas of Arts; Education & Career Development; Sports, Fitness & Recreation; Health & Life Skills; and Character & Leadership Development. The club is affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA), with 4,000 clubs nationwide and representing 4.1 million children.
The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante serves children ages 7-18 from West Contra Costa, including El Sobrante, and its surrounding cities of Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Pinole, Hercules, Crockett, and Rodeo. At the beginning of the school year, members set personal, school, and career goals, which are reviewed at the end of the school year.
Mike’s Auto Body is a 41-year-old family-owned business with 11 locations in Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Richmond, Fairfield, and Napa.
And one final note: On November 22, detectives arrested a 47-year-old man at his home after a search warrant was served at the home and stolen property taken from the club was found inside, according to Contra Costa County Sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee. The man is out on bail and awaiting trial and innocent until proven guilty.
Photo caption: From left, Bruce Hubert, Richmond Shop Manager for Mike’s Auto Body and Sal Contreras (far right) present a check for $6,000 to Billy Zeier, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante.