Clare Trueblood Gurbach
and Jim Gurbach

Clare trueblood-gurbach
& Jim Gurbach

clare trueblood gurbach
and jim gurbach

Tom Blumenthal, President and CEO of GEARYS Beverly Hills, shares a journey of faith and philanthropy. A convert to Catholicism 15 years ago, he steers GEARYS, the iconic family business, and serves on numerous boards, including his role as past chair of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. Tom is humble and proud to serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Mount St. Mary’s University, along with other non-profits. His profound faith transformation aligns with his commitment to supporting various communities throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Fifteen years ago, Clare and Jim Gurbach gathered a few Catholic elementary school principals to level the playing field of Catholic Youth Organization sports. The group heard about the challenges facing some inner-city schools in Los Angeles.

“The first principal says, ‘The tallest girl at our school can’t play volleyball during recess … because we only have one pole on the playground, and the tallest girl has to hold up the other side of the net so the others can play,’” Jim recalls.

The Gurbachs also witnessed these inequities when their daughter played volleyball at American Martyrs Catholic School. Opposing teams played with makeshift uniforms, lacked equipment, and had volunteer coaches.

The Saint Sebastian Sports Project — named after the patron saint of sports and athletes — was founded in 2009. Its mission is to provide every child, regardless of family income, the chance to learn skills, experience growth, and share in the joy of participating in a school sports team.

“I love how our faith intertwines with sports. You need to be good teammates, show good sportsmanship, and respect your coaches and the other team — all values from a Catholic upbringing,” says Clare.

A refurbished gym at St. Albert the Great Middle School in Compton, purchased with donated funds, provides access to nearly 20 nearby schools that otherwise only have blacktop playgrounds to practice and compete.

The Gurbachs championed ways to empower principals, coaches, board members, and parents to be resourceful and respectful of needs. Their work has resulted in dramatic increases in children’s school attendance, confidence, teamwork, and academic achievement.

Since launching with four schools and a few thousand dollars, the project now serves more than 60 schools, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have impacted 35,000 children.  

“All you have to do is go to an event, and you see balls bouncing, kids playing, parents laughing,” shares Karin Muff, original board member. “It’s creating a sense of belonging, pride, and community. That value of that is huge.”

James McGoldrick, director of CYO-LA, has seen how the project’s impact has not just leveled the playing field but expanded it. “There are as many as 40 schools who could not participate in CYO if not for the Saint Sebastian Sports Project,” says McGoldrick. “The lifelong memories these kids will have are because the Gurbachs have a huge hand in it.”