The inaugural event of the “Bobcat Buddies” was held recently at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. Bobcat Buddies is an organization formed by a student to provide camaraderie and friendship for young people on the autism spectrum. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad

The inaugural event of the “Bobcat Buddies” was held recently at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. Bobcat Buddies is an organization formed by a student to provide camaraderie and friendship for young people on the autism spectrum. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad

— The Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad announced that it has offered its gym free of charge to Ethan Hope, an enterprising young man with a big heart.

Hope grew up with a family friend who was diagnosed with autism and saw firsthand the hardships his friend went through on a daily basis. Hope decided he wanted to do something to help kids on the autism spectrum.

“My baseball coach, Butch Smith, would always tell us to be grateful for what we have in life, and to not take things for granted,” Hope said. “There are so many kids with disorders like autism that have the desire to do things that typically developing kids do, and I decided to do something to help

them out.”

Now a sophomore at Sage Creek High School on Cannon Street in Carlsbad, Hope formed “Bobcat Buddies,” a club whose primary purpose is to provide autistic teenagers with fun sports-related events in an environment where they can learn, grow, and interact with others.

One of the first events Bobcat Buddies wanted to host was a game-filled afternoon. Hope approached the administration of Sage Creek High School to reserve the gym, but the school was unable to provide the gym free of charge. “I was devastated; our (Bobcat Buddies) club just didn’t have any fundraising capabilities.”

Not one to take “no” for an answer, Hope reached out to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. The group offered its gym to the Bobcat Buddies free of charge.

“I was so extremely happy; I was almost crying when I heard this great news,” Hope said. Recently his dream was realized when nearly 30 teens gathered for a fun afternoon playing basketball and other games. Camaraderie was the emphasis of the afternoon, and Bobcat Buddies is already hard at work planning its next activity, and hopes even more teens will join them. Visit: www.bgccarlsbad.org/

In related BGC of Carlsbad news, the club recently announced two scholarship winners. Maria De La Mora and Polina Past were selected as Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad’s Youth of the Year Winner and Runner-Up, respectively. Thanks to the generosity of Julie and Matt Harelson and Keith Blackburn, De La Mora will receive a $10,000 college scholarship, and Past will receive $1,500 for higher education purposes. De La Mora will go on to compete for the San Diego County Youth of the Year. The two girls will be honored at the Club’s Super Star Recognition Dinner to be held in May.

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To kick off the San Diego Police Foundation’s 20th Anniversary, a special edition of the 2018 Women in Blue Luncheon was held recently at the US Grant hotel. This year’s sole 2018 honoree is San Diego Police Department Chief of Police Shelley Zimmerman who was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for her 35 years of service at SDPD. Chief Zimmerman delivered her final luncheon keynote address to a sold-out crowd of 550 attendees. The event raised $108,000 to support the needs of SDPD.

Women in Blue is an annual program that not only recognizes trailblazing women in law enforcement, but also raises money to support the San Diego Police Foundation’s work, to provide unmet needs for equipment, training and outreach for the SDPD. Visit: sdpolicefoundation.org/.

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Meals on Wheels San Diego County was awarded a $100,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation to provide critical services to homebound seniors throughout San Diego County. Services include the daily delivery of up to two fresh meals a day to the home accompanied by a safety check and social visit.

The grant comes at a crucial time as the population of seniors continues to increase in San Diego County and more and more seniors are turning to Meals on Wheels San Diego County to help support their physical and emotional health as they age at home. The critical San Diego social service agency has been serving meals to seniors in the community for 58 years but, according to President and CEO Debbie Case, “the current uncertainty with the changing national and state budgets in addition to the increased cost of living has created a bleak situation for many of our seniors.”

“Fifty-four percent of San Diego seniors served are living on less than $19,100 annually and do not have enough income to meet their basic needs. We are facing a senior crisis that includes hunger and isolation and is becoming a silent epidemic.” Visit: meals-on-wheels.org.

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