For the Club Kids

Donating from the Heart

By Jay Gonzales

It’s a seemingly simple question to ask the many donors who contribute the thousands of dollars that have added up to millions for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson − why?

While there are many answers, they come with a common thread from both longtime donors and new ones. It’s usually from the heart.

“All you have to do is walk into a Boys & Girls Club and you realize how important this is,” said Dr. Bill Neubauer, a substantial donor and a local surgeon with over 50 years in medicine. “You see a lot of happy kids.”

Some have old connections to the clubs, like Dale and Julie Butcher who supported the clubs in Greeley, Colo., before moving to Tucson where they’ve been supporters as well. Julie has been a board member, board president, and served a stint as interim CEO.

A substitute teacher in an earlier life, Julie said she had an affinity for helping kids when the Butchers landed in Tucson. She was looking for a cause where she could make a difference, having also been a lifelong fundraiser before she got here.

It’s become more than a cause, she said.

“It’s become my second family, not only with the amazing club kids, but also with the board, the staff, everyone,” she said. “What we provide for kids, it’s just great to be a part of that and to be able to help serve so many children in our community.”

Along with giving their money, the many prominent donors are active in finding ways to raise money and also the best ways to use it.

Julie Butcher and longtime donor and supporter Laurie Wetterschneider helped start the Party with a Purpose that bears the name of Lute and Kelly Olson in the title. It’s an invitation-only dinner and auction that raised $50,000 in its first year and pulled in $1 million the past two years with Jim Click and Edmund Marquez working the auction together.

As director of the Connie Hillman Foundation, Larry Adamson uses the foundation to challenge the Boys & Girls Clubs to seek new donors the foundation will match at $1 for every $2 they raise.

“What we’re trying to do is, not only do they get the Hillman Foundation money, but the challenge makes it easier for them to raise money, to go to their supporters and say, ‘We have this challenge would you help us out?’ ” Adamson said. “It’s typically for a major project or major activity.” He estimates the Hillman Foundation has donated about $700,000, meaning that $2.1 million has been raised through the foundation’s challenge.

Louise and Dale Henderson also had a connection to the Boys & Girls Clubs. Their twin daughters, now 40, learned to swim at the clubs in Sarasota, Fla., and went on to swim in college, Louise said.

Dale is a University of Arizona graduate, which helped lead the Hendersons back to Tucson in 2013 and eventually put their support behind the Boys & Girls Clubs here. They decided on the organization the new-fashioned way, through internet research.

“We started looking at different organizations, online through philanthropic websites, etc. We kept coming back to the Boys and Girls Clubs,” Louise said. After a meeting with the director at the time, the Hendersons made a five-year financial commitment, then started giving their time as well.

“It was so much fun,” Louise said. “We met with high school kids plus some eighth graders. The club director would pick some kids that he thought would enjoy it.”

Last summer, Arizona Women’s Basketball Coach Adia Barnes announced the launch of the Adia Barnes Academy of Sports and Leadership at the Boys & Girls Clubs, which will provide teaching and mentoring for young girls. Nike is also a partner.

Barnes started the funding for the program with a $100,000 donation. She and her players will work directly with the girls in the academy.

“To just be able to collaborate with Nike and the Boys and Girls Clubs to create something special for girls is much-needed and long overdue,” Barnes said at a media event for the academy. “I envision creating future stars and leaders. It’s not all about basketball. It’s about flourishing in every single area.”


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