Sara Balgoyen with MAYC

Sara Balgoyen is the executive director of the Mahomet Area Youth Club. She started her new position in April 2019.

MAHOMET — The idea of working more with young people helped draw Sara Balgoyen to the executive director post for the Mahomet Area Youth Club.

She’s the new MAYC leader, and she’s excited about the future of the club.

“I was working a lot with adults who worked with kids, and I wasn’t working with the kids, so I was looking for a little bit of a shift there,” she said. “This (opportunity) came across, and I got really excited.

“It was the right time, right place — everything seemed like it was meant to be,” she added.

And so far, Balgoyen is seeing a lot of “love and support for this organization.” She is still in touch with former MAYC leader Chad Hoffman, who now works with Habitat for Humanity, and is evaluating what the club does already before initiating any major changes.

“I think what we’re doing is really amazing and I don’t think there’s a ton of change needed,” she said. “I really feel like I need to get my feet wet first before trying to do anything different.”

A Champaign-Urbana native, Balgoyen has more than 10 years of experience working with a local non-profit. She most recently was employed at the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice (IBARJ) Project, serving as its executive director for the last five years. There, she worked across the state providing training and advocacy around restorative justice, Balgoyen explained.

MAYC, located at 700 W. Main St. in Mahomet, is a local not-for-profit organization that provides a safe place with positive developmental programs for children from disadvantaged home environments, according to a press release from the group. Offering out-of-school and after-school programming for children and families in Mahomet, as Balgoyen noted, MAYC also has a summer day camp that already is full for this year. Parts of the camp include field trips to the library, swimming outings, indoor activities, movies and more.

The annual MAYC auction offers substantial support for student scholarships and out-of-school programming that directly benefits working families who rely on MAYC for child care. More than 300 scholarships were awarded in 2018, while MAYC’s programming serves more than 500 local youth by encouraging, supporting and developing them for lifelong success, the group states in a media release.

In other areas, for example, the MAYC junior high after-school program had about 35 members this school year.

MAYC also funds a work-study program at Mahomet-Seymour High School, helping to pay for time to coordinate and execute the effort as students are placed with local businesses to learn “on the job” after school, and allowing six to eight students as summer employees at the club itself in partnership with the high school. The ATLAS program uses space at the MAYC building to provide activities for those with developmental disabilities, too.

In the latest news for the organization, an anonymous donor is funding a new commercial kitchen for MAYC, Balgoyen said, which will give the group an opportunity to expand, perhaps teaching cooking classes in the coming months and years.

Coming up for MAYC, the annual auction, “Burgers, Boots & Bidding,” is set to start at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Doug and Stacy Schroeder’s Barn, 1097 N. 4000 E. Road, Bellflower.

“This auction really funds most of our summer programming,” Balgoyen said. “About 70 percent of kids who come this summer will be on scholarship.”

Also this summer, the 24th annual Run Mahomet is set for Aug. 2-3, starting at Mahomet-Seymour High School. Multiple races and other activities are planned.

Balgoyen noted that this is MAYC’s 25th year, and the group will be planning ways to mark the anniversary.

“We’ve got a lot to celebrate this year,” she said.