Bakersfield has many identities; they’ve been formulated for more than a hundred years and the most common ones relate to the many industries that drive our economic success. But “oil town” or “agricultural mecca” don’t accurately depict the most amazing thing about Bakersfield and the people who live here.

Our close-knit community is most passionate about offering a hand to those who need it. The culture of giving and community stewardship are prevalent to Bakersfield natives and transplants alike.

Whether the support is given to adults or children in need, it is undeniable that our community knows how to give back.

For me, the desire to get involved with a nonprofit organization that focuses on children’s charities started with my own childhood experiences. Every year, members of my church and their families would adopt another less-fortunate family and provide them with the Christmas experience that everyone deserves but oftentimes cannot afford.

Year after year, the emotional satisfaction was life-changing and made me feel extremely lucky. As I grew older and became a professional in the community that I grew up in, I wanted to fill that void again and find an organization that had similar goals. I was lucky enough to find the Active 20-30 Club through my employer at the time, Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corp. Many of the partners, including my mentor, Steve Starbuck, were once members of the club and swore by its effect on their personal and professional lives. This was the opportunity I was looking for to help support local children once again and have a great time doing it alongside other like-minded, local businessmen.

Four years later, I am past-president and active board member and get to watch other emerging leaders come from within the club.

For young people and professionals alike, there are many avenues to support our community, including attending and supporting fundraising events like the annual Country and Craft Beer Festival, where 100 percent of the proceeds support local children’s charities (shameless plug). However, the best way to support the needs of Kern County’s less fortunate is to join an organization that focuses on giving and supporting those needs. The Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield is just one of these organizations, but it focuses on serving underprivileged youths in Kern County through direct donations to charities and by putting on large events with community partners. Although the goal is always to support the community as much as possible through direct giving, the organization also provides a unique experience for its members.

The Active 20-30 Club helps spur growth professionally and personally; members take ownership of events and also rub elbows with Bakersfield’s biggest businesses and decision-makers. It’s well known that many of the top executives and business owners are actively involved as board members at various charities and giving organizations throughout Kern County.

Bakersfield’s identity will always be a combination of the industries that help provide for its citizens and the people who live here, but the true identity will always be the unrelenting compassion we show for each other as members of this community. 

Vance Elmore was born and raised in Bakersfield, graduated from CSU Bakersfield and is CEO of OmniCert Inc., a local software company specializing in safety and compliance software applications in the oil and gas industry. He is a current board member and past-president of the Active 20-30 Club and chairman of the Country and Craft Beer Festival. The views expressed in this column are his own.

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