The Stanislaus County Police Activities League says the way to come out on top at The Community Brunch a $250,000 fund-raiser for five local nonprofit organizations is to skip the razzle-dazzle.
"We are going to keep it simple and straightforward and just focus on quality," said PAL Executive Director Alfredo Guerra.
That philosophy applies to how PAL helps 5,000 to 8,000 children throughout the county each month at 25 parks, community centers, schools and other sites. The kids play sports, get help with their homework, and participate in arts and crafts and other activities.
Guerra said The Community Brunch, which is set for Sunday at John Thurman Field, is a great way to raise PAL's profile.
"This is an excellent opportunity," he said. "Like a lot of PALs across the U.S., we are a community's best-kept secret."
That's important because budget cuts have caused PAL to curtail services. It had a $1.5 million budget in 2010, with most of that coming from school districts and Stanislaus County.
But Guerra said PAL lost the last of its county funding last year, about $250,000, and had to downsize. He said PAL has been using its reserves to help children at the Grayson and Keyes community centers and the Regional Water Safety Training Center swimming pool in Empire.
His organization has followed the path of many PALs across the nation in that it relies primarily on paid staff to work with the children, Guerra said. The staff members typically are college students and stay-at-home moms.
He said that because of budget cuts and the resulting increased workloads, many police officers and sheriff's deputies don't have the time to be PAL volunteers. But law enforcement remains a strong supporter, he said, and the county Sheriff's Department and police departments provide deputies and officers for demonstrations and events for kids.
The Community Brunch pits five nonprofits against one another for $100,000 in prize money, but there is at least an additional $150,000 at stake through ticket sales, donations and a silent auction.
No matter which nonprofit's tickets brunchgoers buy, they will be able to eat the food and enjoy the music of all five. There will be live entertainment.
The other nonprofits are the Promise Scholars at California State University, Stanislaus, The Red Shield Center, First Tee of the Central Valley, and The Education Foundation of Stanislaus County.
A chef has been assigned to each nonprofit. PAL is working with Leroy Walker of Bistro 234 in Turlock. Guerra had his first meal at Bistro 234 a couple of weeks ago.
"The food was excellent," he said. "I had pasta with chicken."
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.