CMS Athletic Department Makes a Difference with Donation to Pomona Hope Kids

In these recessionary times, every little bit of help, well, helps; especially to organizations that are hard-pressed to provide even basic necessities.

And, in the case of CMS athletic department’s inaugural donation of $400 to the Pomona Hope Kids After School Program for much-needed athletic equipment, a few dollars can go a long way.

Paul Settles, the men’s tennis coach, reports that the money helped to purchase soccer balls and goals, volleyballs, basketballs, footballs, cones, jump ropes and dodge balls.

In the process, it made quite a few elementary school kids awfully happy. “I delivered the equipment and the 30 or so kids who were there to greet me were, in a word, ecstatic,” Coach Settles says.

Pomona Hope, which was founded in part by alumni of the Claremont Colleges, is a faith-based organization dedicated to working in community and partnership with people of all backgrounds to strengthen the City of Pomona. And Pomona Hope Kids provides an important outlet for lower income, and in many cases, disadvantaged kids (grades 1-12) from the area.

Launched in 2005, the program includes a snack and recreation time, homework/reading time, customized tutoring in Math and Language Arts, Gym Games, and Computers or Art time. Participants rotate through the activities according to their grade and ability level.

The program is also dedicated to working alongside parents and community members on behalf of Pomona’s youth to provide resources and a safe, affirming environment for youth to grow and learn.

According CMC Government Professor and Pomona Hope board member Ken Miller, Pomona Hope Kids provides a way for students at the Claremont Colleges to get off campus and work with great kids who live in very different circumstances, just a few miles away.

“The program builds a connection between these two worlds,” he says. “The volunteers tutor kids in reading and math, as well as science, music, and art. They also help organize basketball games and other activities. Recently, Pomona Hope established a community garden and volunteers help there, as well.”

One facet of the organization’s programming is athletic, and yet, according to Coach Settles, they were down to one basketball, a volleyball, and two worn soccer balls before the donated equipment arrived.

“I was able to stay and play some indoor soccer with the kids and their new gear,” Settles says, “and then answer some questions about the colleges and what we do as coaches. It was a terrific day!”

According to Settles, the athletic department’s involvement with Pomona Hope sprung from a holiday tradition begun by the CMS former head football coach, Rick Candaele.

“Rick had always gotten our department together during the holidays to support a disadvantaged family from Pomona through the Boys & Girls Club of Pomona,” Settles says. “When Rick left at the end of last summer, I volunteered to take over our department’s holiday giving project.

“Pomona Hope seemed like a great fit,” he continues, “because we could help an organization with lots of kids in need, and there was a natural CMC connection through Ken Miller and others like CMC ’03 grads Adam and Cheryl Miller who have volunteered their time and resources.”

Impressed by the organization’s mission, Miller joined Pomona Hope’s board two years ago. He says Pomona Hope was already doing great work providing critical educational support to kids in a low-income community, but that it had even more potential to help rebuild Pomona, a city that too often has been abandoned.

“I also wanted to help provide opportunities for students at CMC and the other Claremont Colleges to do meaningful volunteer work,” Miller says. “Everyone I know who gets involved loves the kids and finds the work very rewarding.”

Coach Settles says that the Pomona Hope Kids have been invited to campus in May to attend the NCAA Tennis Championships that CMS will host. “We hope to do a kid’s clinic that they can participate in during the championships,” he says.

In addition to donations, Pomona Hope is in need of coaches and mentors. To find out more, visit the Pomona Hope website.