The Boys & Girls Clubs of East County (BGCEC) recently honored husband-and-wife philanthropists Ron and Mary Alice Brady of La Mesa. The Bradys were the inaugural recipient of the BGCEC Community Award in recognition of their longstanding charitable commitment and dedication to supporting children in the East County.
BGCEC officials said future Community Award honorees will include individuals who have significantly positively impacted the local community through their time, actions and talents, and have passionately inspired those around them to take action and serve as agents of change.
“We’re so proud of the work of the Boys and Girls Clubs and it’s been our honor to support them,” said Ron Brady. “We decided a long time ago to share our time and financial support to validate and verify how much we care about the well-being and development of the boys and girls of La Mesa. Young people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. They see much better than they hear. We must walk our talk. There’s no better feeling in the world than supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs because it’s better to build kids than try to mend adults.”
Mary Alice said, “I’ve been so grateful and proud to be part of this multi-generational effort that will help young people in a positive way for future decades. We’re expecting the grandchildren of today’s young club members will one day enjoy the safe environment that is provided at the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County. It’s been pretty exciting to be part of this team and have the opportunity to make such a significant impact.”
“Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those that need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens, and Ron and Mary Alice have selflessly helped us achieve this,” said Forrest Higgins, CEO of BGCEC. “The Bradys have served as role models for generosity and service and making our East County community a better place to live and work. We are pleased to honor them with our first-ever Community Award.”
“Forrest and his outstanding staff are providing an environment that will help children grow up to be their best and learn importance of individual responsibility and accountability for personal growth and development,” said Brady. “Additionally, the Boys and Girls Clubs are providing children with the guidance to develop a positive attitude with which to face the opportunities and challenges ahead, and prepare them to be the best they absolutely can be.”
The Bradys are namesakes of the La Mesa-based Brady Companies, a construction company specializes in metal stud framing, drywall installation, doors, frames, and acoustical ceilings. The company was founded in 1946 by Ron Brady’s father, E.F. Brady. Today, family members continue to operate the company.
The Bradys’ history of donating to the BGCEC stretches back to 2014 and the launch of a capital campaign that included their $1 million gift to renovate an existing teen center that was renamed the Brady Family Teen Center. The teen center is located on the east end of La Mesa Arts Academy (LMAAC), a public school for grades 4 through 8 that’s part of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. Since it opened in 2006, the Brady Family Teen Center has been a popular home-away-from-home for La Mesa’s 11-to-18 year olds.
An additional $2 million gift from the Bradys was instrumental in the July 2017 start of construction on the Brady Family Clubhouse, located on the west end of LMAAC.
The 26,000-square-foot Brady Family Clubhouse and Eleni and Wolfgang Gagon Academy, opened Oct. 4, 2018, features a full-service kitchen, nutrition center, game rooms, a learning center and homework room and a Little Rascals area for 6-to-7-year olds, as well as a 10,000-square-foot gymnasium named after Bill Walton, La Mesa native and former professional basketball player. It is the largest of the six BGCEC facilities in the East County.
The capital campaign to build the Brady Family Clubhouse also has included donations from scores of local East County businesses and private individuals, said Higgins. Some of the monies were earmarked to fund an endowment to operate both the Brady Family Clubhouse and Brady Family Teen Center.
“It’s been our honor to put our family name on the La Mesa Clubhouse and Teen Center for the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County,” said Brady. “It’s our belief that the children of today will be the tomorrow of our culture and our society. They will determine and control the success of the next generation.”
Between the two youth centers, including the Brady Family Teen Center and Brady Family Clubhouse, about 200 children a day, ages 6 to 18, attend after-school recreational activities and learning, BGCEC officials said.
“We are committed to providing opportunity to the future generation,” said Brady. “We started with our family origin, then with our orbital family, including our company family and now our community family.”
Over the past year, in addition to Boys and Girls Clubs members, others who have enjoyed the Brady Family Clubhouse have included some of the 1,200 LMAAC students for physical education classes inside the gymnasium. Also using the gymnasium has been Helix High School basketball and volleyball players. Youth soccer players from American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Region 89, who practice and play games on the school’s grassy fields, also have benefited from a snack bar located in a 400-square-foot corner of the clubhouse.
The Bradys were honored with the BGCEC Community Award at the 54th annual Children’s Ball, a BGCEC fundraising gala, held earlier this year. The annual Children’s Ball raises funds to meet the financial demands to provide programs and activities for the 2,500 children, ages 6 to 18, served annually at the organization’s six clubhouse sites.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of East County, a chartered member of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, operates six facilities, including: the Conrad Prebys Complex with the El Cajon Clubhouse, 1171 East Madison Ave., and El Cajon Teen Center, 1153 East Madison Ave.; Lakeside Clubhouse, 12824 Lakeshore Dr.; Brady Family Complex, 7600 Junior High Dr., La Mesa; Brady Family La Mesa Teen Center, 7775 Junior High Dr.; and, Conrad Prebys Santee Clubhouse, 8820 Tamberly Way.