When husband and wife team Brandon and Tina McGrue started the BEY (Building Effective Youth Development) Center in 2011, they had a vision to mentor and serve youth in the Vallejo community.
Born out of a youth ministry at their former church in 2005, the couple saw the impact they could have on young people as they worked together in the church.
“We were encouraged to work with the youth,” said Brandon McGrue, founder and CEO of the center.
“What happened was some prolific growth and excitement in the youth of that congregation,” he said. “We just saw the opportunity to take the same concept to the community and pretty much think outside the box when it came to how we serve the community, starting with the youth.”
A native of Vallejo, McGrue says his experiences prepared him to start the organization three years ago. After he and his wife adopted their twin 16-year old relatives, the couple noticed a need for programs and services for young people in the area and was determined to make a difference.
Serving youth from pre-K to age 24, the BEY Center formerly partnered with the Vallejo Unified School District in volunteering at the Mare Island Elementary afterschool program in 2012.
After realizing a lack of summer programs in the city, the center also offered a free summer activity program at the school, providing meals, field trips and engaging programs to youth in the community.
However, the challenge was to secure funding to sustain the summer program.
“We just did what we had to do,” McGrue said, having sacrificed to ensure that the program continued.
“Halfway through our fundraiser [for the program], someone came and made a donation…that kind of experience is humbling but empowering at the same time. You step out on faith, and believe it, things will happen as long as we don’t get in our own way.”
The BEY Center was honored in 2012 and 2013 with a “Gap of Need” Certificate of Recognition by Mayor Osby Davis for the organization’s contributions to the community.
“We take care of that gap that gets forgotten often times,” said McGrue. “I know more of what [young people] are dealing with and what they’re going through, to understand at least and be able to have a conversation with them in their language. That’s why the BEY Center has such a niche in the community,” he said.
McGrue wants to build Vallejo’s first community development center to provide 12 different categories of programs including an afterschool program, culinary arts and nutrition education, mentoring, youth and family therapy, parent education and performing arts.
The center looks forward to collaborating with possible partners as they continue to serve the community. For more information on the BEY Center, visit www.facebook.com/BEYCenter.