The 11th annual Soboba Foundation & Soboba Casino Resort Charity Golf Tournament will provide area nonprofits with $10,000 each to continue their worthwhile endeavors. While most organizations have a specific project in mind for the funds, others are looking to continue offering much-needed scholarships to youths and others who don’t have the financial means to participate in educational and recreational programs.
One of those nonprofits is the San Jacinto Mountain Bike Team, led by Team Director Randy Wood, who is also a teacher at San Jacinto High School. The SJMTB Team provides students with coaching and camaraderie that will help them achieve both competitive and non-competitive cross country goals while promoting fitness, recreation and health.
The SJMBT was founded in 2013 by two teachers at San Jacinto High School. These two teachers were very passionate about the sport of mountain biking and wanted to share the experience with kids. The team formed a High School Mountain Bike Team and later formed a Middle School Mountain Bike Team. The governing SoCal League was established in 2008.
“We are extremely honored to have been chosen as a beneficiary,” Wood said, who added that the team typically receives funding from fundraising, individual donations and business sponsorships. “Our goal is to grow and get as many kids on bikes as possible.”
He said the Charity Golf Tournament funding will be used for race fees, bikes, jerseys, transportation, overnight stays, equipment and insurance fees that are all ongoing expenses for the team. He said it will also help recruit new riders who may not have the means to purchase the necessary equipment to participate in the sport.
“Managing the costs and continued growth of the sport is difficult,” Wood said. “We do our best to find a way to get kids on bikes if they show an interest in riding.”
One of the requirements of the organizations that are chosen as beneficiaries is to provide volunteers to assist with all the logistics on and off the course during tournament days, which are March 21 and 22. Early morning check-ins, hosting games and resting points set up throughout the golf course, meeting the needs of all the players and helping out at the evening banquets at the end of each day are just some of the ways that volunteers are asked to contribute to the success of the tournament.
“My team of volunteers is looking forward to giving back,” Wood said. “A donation of $10,000 is a lot of money; we want it to be extra clear that we are very grateful for being chosen as a beneficiary.”
Another first time recipient of the generous funding generated from this annual tournament is the Oak Grove Center, based in Murrieta. Chief Executive Officer Tammy Wilson shared the mission of the nonprofit, which is “to rebuild the lives of at-risk children and their families through educating, healing, restoring relationships, building character and instilling hope.”
Oak Grove Center was founded in 1989 to provide treatment and care for children and teens struggling with severe behavioral and emotional problems. It provides residential care, education and treatment to an average of 1,000 youths each year who are at risk or have special needs. Its programs touch families throughout Southern California. In 2022, 55 San Jacinto Valley children and teens were served through its multiple programs.
Development Director Kristi Piatkowski said the Center’s vision is “to be a premier treatment center that successfully prepares youth for healthy, productive and responsible lives.”
She said Oak Grove has a diverse funding stream with treatment, housing and educational costs paid through contracts that include school districts, insurance and Department of Social Services as well as adoptions.
Regarding the Soboba donation, Wilson said, “The funding will help us complete the replacement of two playgrounds. Playgrounds are important in a child’s physical and social development as well as mental health. Physically, outdoor playgrounds help improve overall health. Mentally, playgrounds support developing relationships with peers and encourage the discovery and development of other talents. They are especially important to children with special needs. It will provide a place to play, grow and thrive, and a special, safe environment where they can “just be a kid.” Additionally, partnering with a well-respected, impactful organization such as Soboba Foundation will bring attention to Oak Grove Center, spreading more awareness of what we do for the community and how others can help.”
Piatkowski said it is the fundraised dollars that go directly to the unique needs of the youth including art and music programs, sports and recreation, vocational programs and special campus needs, such as the new playground Soboba is helping build. She said that without Soboba’s help, it would have taken Oak Grove Center longer to raise the funds as $10,000 will cover a significant portion of the funds needed to build the playgrounds.
Wilson said that Oak Grove volunteers are excited to be a part of the two-day event. “It will be interesting to see how the event is organized, meet the other nonprofits and learn about those also benefiting, and being a part of this community,” she said. “We appreciate those that give back and greatly admire the generosity of Soboba.”
Rounding out this year’s selections are the 7G Foundation, Boxing for Christ, Carol’s Kitchen, Four Directions Club at San Jacinto High School, Friends of Valley-Wide Foundation, Grandfathers for Golf Inc. and Inter-Tribal Sports.
Soboba Foundation members voted on the nearly 50 qualified applications received this year to find those that matched best with the Foundation’s mission and vision to support education, health, economic development, and special projects within Southern California. Throughout the year, the Soboba Foundation provides financial assistance for educational and charitable activities that preserve the cultural heritage of the Soboba Band and support Native American and local community programs.
“It was difficult to narrow down our choices as all the nonprofits under consideration do such meaningful and valuable work in our communities,” Soboba Foundation President Dondi Silvas said. “We hope this year’s recipients will reap many benefits from this event and we look forward to them and others applying again next year.”