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San Benito
April 14, 2024

Feature: Chamberlain’s taps comedy night to support cause

Patrick Ellis hopes a night of comedy becomes an annual tradition for Chamberlain’s Children Center as a way to raise funds for the local nonprofit organization.

He wants it to become something locals anticipate with excitement from year to year.

“I’m hoping this will be our marquee event,” said Ellis, executive director at Chamberlain’s.

The organization April 7 will host its inaugural Stand Up For Kids fundraiser at the Leal Vineyards Barrel Room, with comic Michael Mancini headlining the comedy-dinner show.

Chamberlain’s hosts a big fundraiser each year, but this is the first time with a comedy theme. In past years, the group has hosted such events as family barbecues.

“Really, what we want to do is to have the community that we’ve missed out on in years past become more aware of what we’re doing,” Ellis said, mentioning people in their 20s and 30s. “I think we’ve missed out on a demographic of folks.”

He had been aware of Mancini because the comedian’s daughter went to elementary school in Santa Cruz with Ellis’ son and the two dads used to chat when picking up their kids, although that was about a decade ago, well before Ellis came to San Benito County.

“Once I realized he was a comedian, I started getting his jokes,” Ellis said, thinking back to their initial run-ins. “I used to think, what’s this guy’s problem?”

Mancini has been a comic for three decades, performing in the area at various venues including Leal’s sites here and in Morgan Hill, and a police officer for 15 years as well. Ellis mentioned how Mancini is known as the “World’s Funniest Cop,” while the event’s separate emcee Chris Stickney, who will perform his own opening set, may have another distinction.

“I would venture to say our emcee is the world’s funniest insurance salesman,” Ellis said.

Comedy for serious cause

Laughs aside, Stand Up For Kids is raising money for an organization that deals with serious issues.

Located in San Benito County for more than four decades, Chamberlain’s Children Center is a “nonprofit foster care group home that serves children who have  been mentally and physically abused and neglected and have been removed from their families,” according to the organization. Chamberlain’s strives to give the youths resources they need to become thriving individuals.

With a staff of about 70 – such as child care workers, cottage supervisors, clinical therapists and many others – it is a state and nationally accredited facility that provides therapy, case management, schooling and residential treatment. Chamberlain’s has four group homes with up to six residents ages 6-17, and a non-public school with up to 12 students in grades 1-8. The goal is temporary placement, to help the children transition back into a traditional school setting.

The six-acre facility at 1850 San Benito Street stresses education and mental health, but also maintains a focus on well being, with features like a wellness center and wellness garden adding to the offerings.

“I think the one thread they have in common is that there are social-skill issues that have prevented them from success in the public school setting,” Ellis said. “In nearly every case, we’re finding there has been significant trauma somewhere along the line.”

Denise Cauthen-Wright, the organization’s fund development and donor engagement manager, pointed to a so-called “calm room” as another place to go “if they’re having what I call a meltdown.” The serene setting has painting work done by local artist Patricia Harvey such as trees and clouds to go with calming music and a giant 65-pound bean bag.

“And then Mr. Morrison came up with the great idea of doing a chalkboard wall, so the kids can get their frustrations out without destroying everything,” she said.

Matt Morrison is the center’s special education teacher. He said a primary goal with the kids is “learning how to build relationships with each other.”

“Everybody plays a role,” Morrison said of the staff.

That staff includes around-the-clock supervision and accessibility to treatment.

“No kid who’s been traumatized has ever gotten well without somebody being a positive force,” Ellis said.

The need for such resources is the reason it’s so important to raise funds for the organization.

Along with the tickets, which are $75 per person, the April event includes a silent auction and raffle. Along with giving back to the nonprofit, attendees get to enjoy the rare opportunity for comedy in San Benito County. Mancini is expected to perform an hour-long set to go with the opening set by the emcee.

Event Details

Who: Chamberlain’s Children Center

What: Stand Up For Kids comedy and dinner

When: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. April 7

Where: Leal Vineyards Barrel Room

Why: Give back to foster care/school organization

Tickets: Go to chamberlaincc.org/Postal Graphics/San Benito Bene

Other Details on Chamberlain’s Residential Treatment Program

  • The children in our care are foster children between the ages of 6-17 years. They have all experienced physical and/or emotional  abuse and/or neglect.
  • The four cottages house six children each for a maximum capacity of 24 children.
  • Children are supervised 24/7 with awake staff covering overnight hours.
  • Chamberlain’s provide Social Skills Milieu, Individual, Family, & Group Therapy, Psychiatry/Psychopharmacology and Case Management.
  • Residents are encouraged to participate in recreational activities both on campus and in the community.
  • The program is successful in handling children with the following problem areas:  anger management, behavioral control, impulse control, self-awareness, problem solving, respect for authority, assertiveness, communication skills, social  skills , food insecurities and appropriate boundaries.
  • The residential component is reviewed annually, licensed, and regulated by the  California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing.
  • Staff hold licenses or credentials in Crisis Prevention & Intervention, First Aid & CPR, Marriage & Family Therapy and Group Home Management.
  • The Food Program is reviewed annually and certified by the California Department of Education’s Food and Nutrition Program.

More on the Keith Thompson Non-Public School

  • One room schoolhouse with the capacity for up to 12 children, grades 1-8.
  • State of the art technology
  • Staffed by Special Education Teacher & Paraprofessionals.
  • Focus on special education for developmentally challenged children.
  • All students are followed with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

More on Health, Wellness and Nutrition

The children who come to us often lead sedentary lifestyles and relied on unhealthy foods.  The Chamberlain’s Health, Wellness and Nutrition program teaches children the benefits of staying active, eating healthy foods and taking good care of themselves.  We do this by encouraging them to participate in activities such as growing fruits & vegetables, cooking nutritious meals, playing team sports, using the exercise equipment or playground and lifting spirits through music, bicycling and dance.  We offer a variety of activities such as volleyball, baseball, basketball, soccer, arts & more.

Wellness Center Features

  • Learning Kitchen
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Indoor Rock Climbing Wall
  • Library
  • Music and Movement Room
  • Raised garden beds, a living teepee, a tranquility  garden and


It is supported by local businesses and organizations such as Teknova, Pacific Scientific, VFW 9242, PG&E, Grace Bible, St. Lukes, LDS.

Sponsorship Cover letter & levels


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