Gabriella had been dreaming of her 15th birthday for as long as she could remember. This was the year she’d have her quinceañera, a celebration of her transition into adulthood. She envisioned the beautiful gown she’d wear, her favorite music playing on the speakers, and a delicious spread of her favorite foods. As the day drew near, she and her mother planned all the details — the location, flowers, cake, and purple, pink and turquoise decorations.
Then suddenly, just weeks shy of her birthday, Gabby lost her mom to COVID-19.
Gabby and her three siblings had attended the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme for years. With their mother’s passing, the Club became more than a safe place to learn and grow — it was where she and her siblings could grieve, find comfort and receive the love and support of a family. When it came to Gabby’s quinceañera, the Club staff picked up where her mom left off to give her the party of her dreams.
“Our staff is here for whatever our members need. Sometimes that means helping with homework or coaching soccer. This time it meant planning a celebration for a deserving young woman,” said Erin Antrim, the Club’s CEO. “I am incredibly proud of our frontline staff for going above and beyond every single day for our young people.”
Gabby’s quinceañera was a bittersweet day without her mom, but it’s a moment she says she’ll never forget. “My dress was perfect. My family and my second family — my Club staff and friends — were all here. The food was delicious. My cake was so pretty. The music was exactly what I wanted,” Gabby said. “I felt like a princess.”
It has been a difficult year for Gabby, but the Club has been her home away from home, a place where she says she feels safe and supported, no matter what she’s going through. “I miss my mom every day. Being responsible for three siblings is hard, but the Club has helped my family through every hard moment,” Gabby said. “When I feel sad or need motherly advice, I turn to my Club director who is always here. I’m grateful to have the Club as my second family.”
Even in the face of devastating loss, Boys & Girls Clubs are giving kids like Gabby moments to be thankful for — the support of a family, the strength to face challenges, and happy memories to last a lifetime. Help Clubs make more moments like these possible for young people.
Give Kids Their Next Great Moment
Families and communities rely on Boys & Girls Clubs of America to give them the meals, mentors and meaningful life experiences they need to get through the toughest times and achieve their next great moment. With your support, great moments add up to great futures.