UKIAH, CA, 3/21/23 – For over 28 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah has provided a safe space for local youth to thrive. The club offers programs focused on helping kids improve their educational outcomes, lead healthy lifestyles and avoid risky behavior, and help build character and good citizenship.
To celebrate and raise money for the club’s efforts, roughly 350 community members gathered at Carl Purdy Hall at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds on Saturday, March 4, for the club’s 17th annual crab feast.
The event raised an estimated $53,000 through ticket sales, crab sales, the auction, and additional donations. And this success, according to Kim D. Mercier, chief executive officer for the club, could not have happened without three things: volunteers, donations from local businesses and community members, and most importantly, the Club Kids.
The Ukiah Redwood Empire Lions began working at 8 a.m. to prepare the scrumptious meal. The star of the feast was 1,700 pounds of fresh all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab from Justin’s Crab Company in Santa Rosa. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t run out as we have done in the past,” says Mercier. “At the end of the night we still had a few pounds leftover and sold it to those who wanted crab to take home and of course, we gave some to any of our volunteers who wanted some.”
In addition to crab, the meal included pasta and salad provided by Stan’s Maple Cafe and the Pub, and mini cupcakes and cookies from the Baking Pagan. Guests quenched their palates with wines from Hopland’s McNab Ridge Winery, beer provided by Constellation Brands and Lagunitas Brewing, and water and soda from Canteen Vending Services.
As guests wined and dined on local wine and fresh crab, retired Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman played master of ceremonies, bringing his big personality and generous spirit to the festivities, including the live and silent auctions that helped raise additional funds for the club’s work. The auctions included posh vacation home stays at Sea Ranch and Leonard Lake in Redwood Valley. Many wineries and spirit producers, including Fetzer Vineyards, Jackson Family Wines, Husch Vineyards, Charbay Distillery, Frey Vineyards, and Roederer Estates, also donated, offering rare bottles and wine-tasting experiences.
Other volunteers that helped make the night a success include the California Conservation Corps, Rotary Club of Ukiah, and the Blue Zones Project.
“However, the true feature part of our annual crab feast is the Club Kids,” says Mercier. “The kids always have a great time.” The Club Kids, all of who are members of the Boys & Girls Club, volunteer for the event and participate in a month-long training program on how to be servers. During the crab feast, the kids serve food to attendees while accepting tips for their efforts. The tips are split two ways at the end of the night: Club Kids get half for their work and the other half goes towards a specific item that the kids identify in advance for the club to purchase. This year was a Nintendo Switch.
And just as it takes a village to raise a healthy and happy child, Mercier is grateful for all who contributed to the event as attendees, donors, and volunteers: “The key to the success of our annual Crab Feast event is the same for anything that the Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah does to try and raise the necessary funds to support the needs of our most vulnerable – community support!”
Learn more about the Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah at ukiahbgc.org.
Note: Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture, weather and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control.