Vallejo’s Active 20/30 Service Club’s mission statement embodies the symbiotic relationship that occurs when kids in need receive guidance and assistance from their elders. But, unlike many service clubs, the Active 20/30 is exclusive to folks in early adulthood. Their motto is, “youth to be served, must serve,” and they exist to both provide charitable services to children in the Vallejo community, and to give 20-39-year-olds the opportunity to seek personal fulfillment through helping others. They hold regular meetings and fun events, so it’s also a great way for young people to meet folks their own age, and Derrick Karimian, the Vallejo Club’s Charter President, said he can’t count the number of touching moments he’s experienced over his years of involvement with the club’s charity programs.
“We make sure that the money we’re spending is going to children in need,” Karimian said. “We hand-select every child that benefits from our fundraising programs and a lot of these children are living in motels, going to homeless shelters, living in their cars … It’s definitely going to a good cause.”
Karimian originally joined the 20/30 Club through the Napa chapter, and after some years of success decided to form a Vallejo chapter; he saw a greater need for charitable services in the area. As it turns out, Vallejo’s 20/30 service club has been an avenue for educational programs, food bank drives, “shopping-spree” drives, and other great charitable programs, since it was re-established in 2011. Their main focus is at-risk youth and their mission is to provide a chance for “personal fulfillment” for young adults looking to serve at-risk youth.
The national circuit of service clubs was originally founded in 1922, but a lot of them, including Vallejo’s, disbanded, especially during the 1960s and 70s while the Vietnam War was going on. Membership was originally offered exclusively to 20 and 30-year-olds, but they’ve since expanded the age limit, raising it to 39. This has allowed for an increase in their overall membership and gives members the opportunity to establish long-lasting memberships with the club. Now, 20/30 service clubs are sprawled all over the United States and Canada.
“The club as a whole really started gaining traction in the late 90s, near the turn of the millennium,” Karimian said, adding that Vallejo’s chapter is still going strong, three years in.
In addition to the Napa and Vallejo Chapters, there is also an Active 20/30 Service Club in San Francisco too. In 2010, the San Francisco club was re-chartered as a women-only group, but they switched back to a co-ed club in 2012. They’ve been able to raise thousands of dollars for local charitable programs (100% of the money they raise goes directly to the charity organizations they work with) despite having less than a dozen members, and they’re accepting applications from anyone aged 21-39 who’s interesting in getting involved.
“Unfortunately for people under 40, and particularly under 30, many service clubs tend to attract a little bit older of a population,” Karimian said. “Our club is for young people specifically because there is a lack of service clubs for young people.”
One of the year-round services that 20/30 clubs offer is a series of classes on a range of topics for Vallejo youth. Usually, these classes are done in partnership with a local group or business, and Karimian says they give the 20/30 service club’s members an opportunity for more “hands-on” charitable work. Oftentimes, service members will help facilitate or even teach the classes, and Karimian said it’s a very fulfilling type of work.
“We do a career and life expo with all the 8th graders in town,” Karimian said. “We have a career portion, where young professionals are paired with children one-on-one and they form a career path plan. Then, there’s a life portion, where we talk to the kids in groups.”
During the life portion, they learn important skills that might not be taught in standard classrooms, like CPR, self-defense, and the basics of understanding credit (and avoiding credit debt). The “career” portion of the event also helps 8th graders in Vallejo, since the school district offers “Wall-to-Wall Academies” for that offer career/college preparatory classes.
In addition to their active, hands-on service projects (like the classes), the 20/30 Club generally takes on one or two “big picture” projects to focus on; usually programs that are a little more long term and require donation funding to take place. For example, Karimian pointed out that all of the clubs in the United States and Canada are required to do a shopping spree for kids with low-income backgrounds, and they can choose to schedule their shopping spree for either a “back to school” event or for Christmas. Vallejo’s service club opted for the school shopping spree, said Karimian, starting in 2012.
“With the shopping spree we buy backpacks, school supplies, hygienic items, three to four outfits and two pairs of shoes,” Karimian added. “The idea behind this is to help children who come from a background where their parents might not be able to afford to buy them new clothes and school supplies, so that they can go into the new school year feeling confident and ready to take on the studies at hand.”
To fund this shopping spree, the service club relies heavily on fundraising events, like the one that’s happening this month on April 18th at Blue Rock Springs Golf Course, beginning at 1 p.m. The cost is $125 per person, which includes golfing fees, as well as lunch, dinner and some extra treats. The club members who organize the event take great pains to make sure that everyone is included—both serious golfers and casual players who are just out to have a good time. They do this by doing their best to group serious golfers and causal golfers into separate groups, and to allow the folks who are more serious to go first. So, if you’re not the greatest golfer in the world, it doesn’t matter; you can still come out and have a fun experience, and maybe meet some new people too.
“We’re not big golfers in our club, but we do enjoy the outdoors, and we go out and have a great time,” Karimian said. “We’re more concentrating on the experience—I don’t care if you’re 20 under par, or 50 over par—if you’re having a great time, we’ve done our job.”
The 20/30 Service Club also relies heavily on businesses in the local community too, and not just in ways that you might expect—obviously, they need local sponsors, especially for events like their golf tournament, but they also have established partnerships for educational programs through local businesses too. For example, they’re constantly collaborating with the Greater Vallejo Recreational District on events, and they recently did a self-defense educational training seminar with William Kim’s Tae Kwon Do studio on Springs Rd. in Vallejo.
“We cannot do this without sponsorships from business,” Karimian said. “For every hole sponsor that we get, that’s one more child who will receive school supplies, clothes and a haircut—it literally translates to one child per sponsorship.”
The Napa Club is holding their golf fundraiser in late June, and a poker tournament in May. The San Francisco Charter holds regular events as well.
For anyone between the ages of 20-39, living in the Vallejo area and looking to get involved in the local community, visit www.vallejo2030.com. To get involved with Napa’s charter, go to www.napaactive2030.org. For San Francisco’s, go to www.active2030sf.com. Karimian also invites anyone who’s interested in getting involved with Vallejo 20-30 to contact him through email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nate Gartrell grew up in Benicia, studied journalism in college, and has written for a handful of media outlets since age 15. He aspires to visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and to hit the trifecta at the horse track.