Monday, October 04, 2004

Clermont County's Boys and Girls Club, Part Two

[Presently, I'm enjoying serving on several boards with the Boys and Girls Club of Clermont County (Ohio). Below is the second of two columns I've written for a local chain of suburban Cincinnati newspapers about the Club. If you don't live in Clermont County, perhaps it will spur you to get involved in the Boys and Girls Club in your area. Go to this link to learn more about this important movement and to search for the Club in your area.]

In my last column, I talked about the Boys and Girls Club of Clermont County.

I also talked about the eight-year record for changing young people’s lives for the better the Club already has in New Richmond, about the fantastic start it has made in the west Clermont area, and about the future vision of having a Boys and Girls Club unit in every township of our county.

The Club, in each of its two units, provides young people in our community with safe places to gather, learn, and have fun in supervised environments daily during the critical after-school hours. This is important because nationally, weekdays 3:00 to 7:00 P.M. find the highest incidents of juvenile crime. These are also the hours when young people are most likely to get into trouble sexually.

The Boys and Girls Club units in New Richmond and West Clermont are giving young people wholesome alternatives to listlessness, boredom, and trouble.

Today, I want to address two issues: How is the Boys and Girls Club funded? How can you get involved?

Because the Boys and Girls Club wants young people of every socioeconomic background to take advantage of its services, children are charged just $5.00 per year to join. But of course, the fees can’t cover the expenses involved in hiring professional staff and running a quality program.

The Boys and Girls Club is highly dependent on foundation grants. Funders who back the club include the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and United Way, among others.

Community donations from an annual mail campaign provides some of the funding, as do an annual 5K run and a golf outing.

But the needs for supervised afterschool programs that help change children’s lives for the better are enormous. Local law enforcement and township officials and community leaders from across the county contact the Boys and Girls Club regularly about when a new unit can be started in their locales.

A sizable increase over current funding levels will have to happen if that needed expansion is to come about. Even now, membership is frozen at the West Clermont unit of the club because the $468 per year price tag can’t be covered for any more children at present.

That’s why community volunteers and Boys and Girls Club volunteers are hard at work with executive director Nancy Beck on a major community event scheduled for March, 2005. Included will be a black tie dinner and silent auction aimed at raising enough money to put the club on a firm financial footing while setting it on a course for future growth and years of providing a truly positive place for kids. The event will become an annual feature of our community’s life, a way of expressing our commitment to our children.

So, how can you help? Don’t wait for March, 2005 to make a contribution. I urge you, your family, your company, or your church to make major donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Clermont County right now. Sufficient giving right now just might allow the kids currently on waiting lists to join and start reaping the benefits of the club’s program sooner than would otherwise be possible.

We also need adult volunteers to help our program staff. Of course, there is a stringent screening process. But you don’t need to be an expert on childhood psychological development, just a person who wants what’s best for kids and a willingness to give a few hours of your time each week.

For detailed information, feel free to contact Nancy Beck, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Clermont County, at 553-0188.

[Mark Daniels is pastor of Friendship Church. He’s also vice president of the corporate board of the Boys and Girls Club of Clermont County, a volunteer position.]

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