Tags: Featured Story
In addition to making New Year’s resolutions this January, the members of the Boys & Girls Clubs at the Armstrong Youth Center will be enjoying their newly remodeled kitchen thanks to a $50,000 grant from Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. Used to prepare daily snacks and teach the club members cooking and nutrition classes, this newly refurbished space “helps not only build the members’ skills but also builds their self-confidence, too,” says Zane Smith, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County.
The kitchen is also used for their “Summer Feed” program where children, ages 0 to 18 years in the Bakersfield City School District, can enjoy a free lunch Monday through Friday during the summer months. Individuals do not have to be a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs to qualify for participation.
The kitchen was completely transformed. “We basically gutted it,” Smith says. “The only original appliance left is a pot stove.” Smith says he wanted the kitchen to not only be functional, but also have some personality. Along with the Corian countertops, stainless steel, commercial-grade appliances, and dark chocolate cabinets, he added some vivid Papaya and Mango paint colors. “I wanted a nice environment for learning,” he says. “But, I also wanted it to be kid-friendly – bright and cheerful.”
The local team at Lowe’s was instrumental in designing and planning the kitchen upgrades. “Lowes is excited to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America on these projects across the nation,” says Randy McBride, store manager at Lowe’s Panama location. “We will be helping children have a safe, inspiring place to go; therefore, building a stronger foundation for our future employees and customers.”
Working with Lowes and the Boys & Girls Clubs, general contractor Glenn Harmonson of One Source Construction Services thought of every imaginable feature to make this kitchen a place where the members will want to learn about cooking and nutrition. “They really analyzed our challenges and thought of all the needs of our kids,” says Smith. “We have received a lot of support. Glenn donated more than 60 percent of his time working on this project.”
The new kitchen passed inspection with an “A” from the Kern County Department of Public Health. And now, the members can’t wait to use the kitchen to make all kinds of goodies like zucchini bread, omelets, salsa, and even painted toast where they make watercolors using food coloring and butter. “The kids are excited about participating,” Smith says. “They love to share what they produce with our staff and other members.”
Even after the remodel, there was some additional money left over that the Boys & Girls Clubs are using to install a washer and dryer, new hot water heaters, and refurbish a storage area. “This grant has really helped us to streamline our operation,” Smith says.
Since 2009, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation have donated more than $2 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. For more information, please visit www.bgclubsofkerncounty.org.
If you’d like to help stock this new kitchen with much needed supplies, here is their wish list of items that would help the Boys & Girls Clubs accomplish their mission.
You can make your donation at the Boys & Girls Club at 801 Niles Street in Bakersfield.
• Kitchen Aide Mixer
• Food Processor
• Pots and Pans (non-stick)
• Colander (large)
• Crock Pot (large)
• Oven Roaster
• Oven Mitts
• Kitchen Towels
• Aprons (kids to adult sizes)
• Silverware & drawer holder
• Plastic ware for storage
• Knife Set
• Glasses (plastic)
• Dishes (Corning Ware)