Supporting children’s participation in outdoor activities year-round
■ By Mark Lentine / Contributed
If you were lucky enough to attend the Friends of Valley-Wide “The Weekend” event on Friday and Saturday, Mar. 23-24, you witnessed a wonderful weekend of charity events.
“This event, The Weekend, is one of two major events we hold every year, with the other being our Autumn Elegance event in November,” said Craig Shultz, Public Information Officer at Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District, adding, “Our theme this year is Farmer’s Fair Memories, named after the old country-style fair called the Farmer’s Fair, which was held in Hemet for more than forty years beginning in the 1940s.”
The golf outing, held on Friday, Mar. 15, kicked off The Weekend festivities. The scramble-style golf game, which featured 144 golfers, was a perfect way to start off the weekend, have fun and raise money for a worthy cause. “The Valley-Wide Foundation, through the Friends of Valley-Wide [friendsofvalleywide.org] along with the Exchange Club, raises money that comes right back to the community in the form of scholarships. So say, as an example, a child can’t afford the fee to play baseball, the organization helps, on a sliding-scale basis, to pay the fee, so that no child is denied an opportunity,” said Shultz.
The Exchange Club of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley is a chartered member of the National Exchange Club whose primary purpose is educational service to the citizens of their communities, state and the nation.
The local club has long been involved with service to the community, with a special emphasis on youth projects. The Breakfast Exchange Club of Hemet-San Jacinto merged with the Exchange Club of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley in 2003. The Friends of Valley-Wide Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the valley by supporting the diverse programs and services of Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District., which was was established in July 1972, beginning with rented facilities on Florida Avenue in Hemet. Since that time, the district has grown to 282 parks and nine facilities for a total of 1200 acres in the communities of Menifee, Winchester, French Valley, Sage, San Jacinto, Hemet and Valle Vista. The district provides park programs, excursions, activities, adult sports, youth sports and special events for all the residents of the communities they serve. In the past six years, at Diamond Valley Lake Community Park, they have seen the successful completion of the five-acre aquatic facility, three soccer fields and eight, lighted ball fields with parking, restroom facilities and sidewalks.
The Exchange Club of Hemet-San Jacinto Valley is committing the majority of the funds raised through this year’s events to the development of the gym and Venable Exchange Club Park, presently on an unimproved 8-acre property located at the corner of Fairview and Mayberry Avenues in Valle Vista.
There were not only golfers signing up, but many brought family members to the outing as well, giving the event a true family feeling. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse, positive crowd at any venue as was seen at the Soboba Country Club. “The Soboba Tribe and its organization have always been very good friends to the Friends of Valley Wide,” said Shultz.
Saturday saw a much more mild, less windy day for the silent and live auctions and the dinner portion of the weekend’s events.
At a very reasonable $40 for dinner, many people were eager to relive some of the memories of The Farmer’s Fair stopping by a one-time Hemet staple, Chris’s Juicy Burgers, whose line couldn’t have gotten much longer.
“We’ve actually run out of chairs,” said Shultz. A quick tabulation showed that there were at least 500 tickets sold. “Running out of chairs is a pretty good problem to have, so I think you can call it a success. All of the 140-plus items to be auctioned off, in both the silent and live auctions were donated by the Exchange Club, the Friends of Valley-Wide and our staff.”
The size and spirit of this event can’t be overestimated; “For fiscal year 2017-2018 we helped 410 children. And don’t forget, that ranges from 25 percent aid all the way up to 75 percent of funds a child may need,” said James Salvadore, Valley-Wide Office Administrator.
The Kiwanis Club was kind enough to donate the services of a professional comedian, Chinese antique auctioneer and benefit auctioneer, Nick Arnette. “I was here last year, and I loved it. These people were very easy to work with,” said Arnette, adding “In a normal auction, some bidders can be rough trying to get the best deal, but at a benefit auction people are more laid back because they know everything is going to charity.”
And charity it is, which has allowed hundreds of children in need to enjoy many hours of outdoor and sports activities that they may have otherwise missed. This is one ‘Weekend’ you don’t want to miss in the future.