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zane_smith
The Smith Family - L-R Christopher, Amy, Zane & Charlotte
In 1996, when Zane Smith, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County, first started his job, they had one location and only served 25 members. Today, he's proud to say they have 23 locations (and counting) and 2500 kids participatING in the Clubs on a daily basis. He also expanded the program from the city into the rural areas of Delano, Lamont, Frasier Park, and more.

When he first started as Executive Director, he says, "I saw this single unit, and I knew it had potential for expansion. I love a challenge. The idea of serving as many kids as possible is exciting for me."

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County were created to promote the social, educational, health, and character development of our youth ages five through 17. The Clubs are open five days per week during the school year and provide off-site league sports on Saturdays year-round. The Clubs provide enrichment and education programs, social recreation, homework assistance, fine arts, science, fitness, and nutrition.

A gifted artist, Zane finds ways to use his artistic talents to encourage and support his members. "When a kid has had a particularly rough day, I sit down with them and do a pen sketch while having a counseling session," he says. His sketches have become so popular that kids now ask, "Do I have to get in trouble to have a sketch done?" Zane also donates commissioned portraits for different fundraising events and opportunities in the community.

Zane wants his staff to form real relationships with these kids: know their names and know their histories. "When we get to know these kids, we can tailor our program to meet their needs." Zane says. "With each kid, I like to find the one thing that they are really good at and focus in on that."

These kids also have many opportunities to connect with the community whether it's an art show or a performance or a City Council meeting. "When they learn to respect the community, they want to give back to it," he says.

Recently, one of his 15-year-old members had the chance to give back to the community in a big way. At the Bakersfield West Rotary Cioppino Feed, this budding artist donated an original piece of art. During the event, he stood at the auction table and spoke with well-known community leaders about his motivation and inspiration for the piece. He was thrilled when his painting sold for $300. Now he's planning on donating more of his art work to charity.

With a lifelong commitment to the Boys and Girls Clubs, Zane says he plans on being part of the program "as long as they'll have me." He even says his retirement plans include volunteering as an art teacher at the Clubs. His first job with the Boys and Girls Clubs was teaching art while he was attending college at California State, Long Beach. He went on to become a Program Director and Director of Operations for the same Clubs of Garden Grove.

Zane's commitment to the community is a perfect match for his wife Amy. She shares his passion for community service. She works as the Program Officer for the Kern Community Foundation, a nonprofit public charity that works to enhance the quality of life for our community by encouraging philanthropy, providing services to donors, and assisting those who work to meet community needs. Zane says that both he and Amy have had opportunities to go into the for-profit world, but they have found their niche in their respective careers. They have two children, Christopher and Charlotte, who also give back to the community in their own ways. Zane says his family members who work in the for-profit world tell him that his family is their "social conscience."

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County can always use volunteers to provide positive role models for their members. They also welcome donations of gently used clothing and toys for their Family Resource Center. For more information, please visit www.bgclubsofkerncounty.org or call 859-0948.

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