After-school & Summer Science Project
Richard Tejeda founder of Saved By Nature is alumni and one of the original members of the Levin Clubhouse in south San Jose. Working with Fred McCasland, Director of Program Services for the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley for over a decade to create projects that promote environmental and social justice; providing a much-needed education resource service for young people and families in our community by increasing capacity to deliver enriching activities to youth.
Growing up on the other side of the train tracks, Richard was introduced to the Boys & Girls Club at the age of 10 by his mom. She worked in the Davis Jr. High cafeteria where the South Side Boys and Girls Club was first launched. With little to nothing Unit Director Fred McCasland, who transferred from the East Side, provided an extremely fun and safe environment for the neighborhood kids. At times he would chase away riff raff that would try to hang around the club and be a negative influence on those that attended on a regular basis.
Richard remembers running to the club he was so excited about the activities. Under the guidance of Fred, Richard played flag football, softball, basketball and became a champion ping-pong player. During Christmas, Fred would load up a couple vans and take the kids to a dinner and to get gifts from Santa. In the summer of 1989 Richard got to attend a life-changing camping trip at Yosemite - San Jose Family Camp. He would vow to take his own family there one day.
Once Richard was in eighth grade, he became influenced by peers at school, in his neighborhood, and even by family. Fred, who grew up on the Eastside of San Jose was no stranger to the street life. He pulled Richard aside and told him that the people he’s starting to hang with would eventually get him into trouble and to continue to regularly come to the club. Little by little, Richard would stop going to the club and sooner than later Fred’s wisdom would become a reality.
For over a decade Richard has provided month-long summer day camps, after school programs, science clubhouse visits, and now has launched the Summer Science Project.
When we asked Richard why he does these things for the Boys & Girls Club he said, “through the years I have realized that I grew up in a low-income community, the fact that I still had a decision, and that I made the wrong one. I do this because I want to be part of providing a choice to the kids, like Fred did for me."