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How You Change Lives. The Maria Gutierrez Story.

Maria-G-staff (2)Hello, my name is Maria Gutierrez. I am an incoming freshman in college, a fourth-grade Power Hour leader at Boys & Girls Club, a former High School Key Club member, and most importantly aformer Boys & Girls Club member.

My journey towards the Boys & Girls Club (the Club) began back when I was in fifth grade. I took the bus home every day and noticed the bus stopped to let kids off at the Club. Many peers always talked very highly of the Club and said it was fun, so I was determined to go to this “cool” Club as well! I told my Dad and he signed me up to be an official member. Well, the Club was more than I could have imagined. Everyone was so welcoming and enthusiastic; so that I went there every day they were open.

By this time my father had been diagnosed with colon cancer and staying at home wasn’t an option for me. Seeing my father suffering through this terrible illness wasn’t how I expected my 7th grade summer to be. He was the first one I told about the Club and what it had to offer. From the beginning my dad always encouraged me to do all my homework at the Club because my homework was in English and my parents spoke Spanish & couldn’t help me much. My dad also encouraged me to participate in classes like ceramics, Smart Girls and etiquette class. My parents were thrilled at the experiences and knowledge the Club was giving me! All these great experiences allowed me to discover new hobbies and guided me through my teen years.

My father passed away on July 18, 2009, and the Club was the last place he ever drove me. I didn’t attend the Club for two weeks, as I helped my mother take care of everything for my father’s funeral. When I returned to the Club the staff welcomed me with open arms. They truly made me feel like I was a part of their family and treated me no differently. The Boys & Girls Club not only was a place where I could get homework help or learn how to shoot a basketball, it was my second home. The Club gave me the chance to get away from the sad environment at home, and to live my young life to its full potential.

As I went into high school, I had lost sight of the Club since I didn’t have a way of transporting myself there. During my sophomore year I found the Key Club, a community service-based club supported by the Kiwanis. This club quickly enthralled me when two Boys & Girls Club staff came in to speak at one of the Key Club meetings about possibly volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club to fulfill community service hours. I decided to volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club and I found myself addicted to it once again. The enthusiastic atmosphere was nostalgic as I stepped in to my old home. I began going to the Club once a week, but that quickly escalated to everyday. I would help tutor with homework, teach art class, and interact with the kids on a daily basis. Through all the activities and projects that I’ve participated in, it had accumulated to be over 100 hours of service!

When school and Key Club were out for the summer, I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to the Boys & Girls Club again, nor any of the kids. I applied to work at the Club for a summer job and now I have been working there ever since! I graduated high school this year and after the summer I will be attending Cuesta College. I still work at the Club and the part-time hours are perfect for my school schedule. It still feels like a second home here and the Staff and the kids, well, we’re like family.

I sometimes think about where I might be if the Club did not become a part of my life at such an uneasy time. I almost feel indebted to this place. I am personally invested at this point. I know how much of a positive role the Club, the staff, the classes and programs had on me and now I only hope I can return the favor and make a difference in the life of one of our kids. I realize that my story is going out to everyone who has made a donation to the Club, so this is my chance to thank you for being a part of something bigger than yourselves, something that changes lives! Your help helped me survive and thrive and become the person I am today. And I know I will go on to do even greater things!


Gotta Get Your must! Wearables

Check it out – gotta get your must! wearables.  In style and supporting the cause!

must wearables


December is must! Month at Tablas Creek

december must monthOnce again, Tablas Creek will donate $1 to must! charities for each bottle purchased directly from us (in our tasting room, online or by phone) during the month of December.  We invite you to visit us through the end of the year to enjoy Tablas Creek wines, check out our new holiday gift packs,  and support local children in need.  100% of the funds generated will go directly to ensure kids in our community have access to healthy food.

We’d love for you to support our friends at Tablas Creek – tag a photo with you and your December-purchased Tablas Creek wine on Facebook and enter to win a must! t-shirt!

Above, Jason Haas and must! Executive Director Becky Grey present the Boys and Girls Club of Paso Robles with last December’s donation of $7,669.


Wine for the Holidays…Or Any Day

If you are wracking your brain about what to take to your next holiday party, what to give your boss, what to take to your in-laws. Look no further! We’ve got you covered!

wine in shopsHolding to their belief in giving back to the community, several winemakers combined efforts to support must! charities. 100% of the wine, supplies, and time were donated. 100%! The proceeds of Common Ground wine go directly to must! charities. We’d love for you to pick up a bottle of our Paso Robles Red Wine Blend. Click here to find a location near you.

Still curious about this wine? Check out the wine notes from a local winemaker: this vivacious red blend opens with bright red cherries, raspberries and ripe plums.  These notes follow through to the palate and are accentuated by zesty tannins.  A fabulous example of a Paso blend!  Perfect for backyard barbeques in the summers and keeping warm by the fire in the winter.

And if that doesn’t make you want to buy it take it from a man who truly knows a thing or two about Paso Robles Zinfandel – “great wine, great price, great cause” – Toby James

Appellation: Paso Robles

Blend:   Zinfandel, Syrah, & Grenache


Mentoring Works

The University of Colorado Center for Study & Prevention of Violence found that Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs is one of 11 outstanding programs in our country that meet a high scientific standard of effectiveness. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy released a report in 2012 that ranked mentoring programs for youth as a top prevention program targeting children and adolescents, estimating a $4.87 return on every $1 spent. must! charities is committed to help Big Brothers and Big Sister of San Luis Obispo County have a stronger presence in the northern region of SLO County. Currently there are 34 youth on the waiting list in the North County, and only 3 matches were made last year. Limited resources have forced this organization to focus on maintaining youth services, rather than volunteer outreach and recruitment.

index“Research confirms what we know anecdotally or intuitively – that mentoring works.” For over 25 years, the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) has developed and delivered resources for mentoring programs nationwide. This excerpt from The Value of Mentoring make a strong case for why mentoring works:

The 2013 study “The Role of Risk: Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles,” examined mentoring program relationships, experiences and benefits for higher-risk youth. Overall, the study’s results suggest that mentoring programs can be beneficial for youth with a broad range of backgrounds and characteristics. Tailoring the training and support that is available to matches based on the specific risks youth face has the potential to produce even stronger benefits socially, academically, and in the long term.

Mentoring and Academic Achievement

High school graduation is an economic imperative in today’s global economy driven by knowledge and innovation. Mentoring is a positive youth development strategy that supports the Grad Nation goal of attaining a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. Research has shown that mentoring has significant positive effects on two early indicators among high school drop-outs: high levels of absenteeism (Kennelly & Monrad, 2007) and recurring behavior problems (Thurlow, Sinclair & Johnson, 2002). A landmark Public/Private Ventures evaluation of Big Brothers Big Sisters programs showed that students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school. An analysis of mentoring program evaluations conducted by Jekielek, Moore and Hair found that youth in mentoring relationships present better attitudes and behaviors at school and are more likely to attend college than their counterparts.

Dropping out of school is not a singular event but rather the culmination of a long process of disengagement. It is critical that intervention efforts aimed at students with a disproportionate number of risk indicators for dropping out of high school reach students young enough. Children between 9 and 15 are commonly at important turning points in their lives. It is during this time that they may permanently turn off from serious engagement in school life and turn to a variety of risky behaviors that can limit their chances of reaching productive adulthood. Encouragingly, this is also the age bracket during which preventative intervention is most successful and youth are most capable of envisioning a positive future and plotting the steps they need to take to reach their goals. They are at the right stage of development to best absorb and benefit from the skills of a strong mentor (Rhodes and Lowe, 2008).

A recent highly-comprehensive study conducted by Communities In Schools and the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University identified a variety of predictive risk factors for dropping out. The report states that while there is no single risk factor that causes dropping out, each additional risk factor an individual faces increases the likelihood of dropping out. Some of the key, alterable risk factors the study cites are:

  • Teen parenthood;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Criminal behaviors;
  • Lack of self-esteem;
  • Poor school performance/Grade retention;
  • Absenteeism;
  • Discipline problems at school;
  • Low educational expectations/Lack of plans for education beyond high school; and
  • Lack of interaction with extracurricular activities.

There are also numerous external risk factors for dropping out, such as gender, socioeconomic status, level of parental education, involvement with child welfare services, living in a single parent home and having a parent in prison. Given that the more risk factors a student faces the more likely he/she is to drop out, we can extrapolate that interventions aimed at reducing and removing these alterable risk factors will be more successful at preventing students from dropping out.

Mentoring by a caring adult over a prolonged period of time has been shown in countless academic studies to be effective in combating these risk factors. A number of studies have revealed a correlation between a young person’s involvement in a quality mentoring relationship and positive outcomes in the areas of school, mental health, problem behavior and health (DuBois & Karcher, 2005; Rhodes, 2002; Zimmerman, Bingenheimer & Behrendt, 2005).

Compelling research like this, combined with the data in our own Northern San Luis Obispo County were factors in must! charities collaborating with Big Brothers Big Sisters to bring mentoring opportunities to our community. We are making a 4 year commitment upwards of $253,000 to ensure youth in the north county have access to mentoring, and are investing in a sustainable business model so that Big Brothers Big Sisters continues with a strong north county presence long after must! charities commitment is over.