United Way donations helps Boys & Girls club serve more children

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NW0113 Boys and Girls Club E

Each year, the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County offers summer and after-school activities to hundreds of Carter County children.
The club is able to include more children thanks to funding contributed by the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way. While the United Way contribution to the Boys & Girls Club budget is small — around 2 percent — Boys & Girls Club Director Ginny Wright says every funding source helps the organization complete its mission in the community.
“Any money we get helps us invest in our programs and invest in our kids,” Wright said. “The more money we receive, the more kids we can help. Last year, the number of kids in our summer program doubled. The after-school program is able to continue growing, and that is because of the funding we receive from the United Way.”
The after-school program is in place most of the year, offering children whose parents work a place to come after school. When school is out in the summer, the summer program picks up and includes activities for children and teens from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
“A lot of people don’t know everything we do here,” Wright said.
During the after-school program, students can get help with homework, as well as tutoring and mentoring to help them set and achieve their own goals for the school year or to work toward graduation. The club also offers a technology-based program called Stride Academy that helps students build grade level skills.
Wright said the club also offers daily sports, fitness and recreation opportunities for members.
The club also offers arts and crafts, leadership and character-building programs, as well as service opportunities for students.
The Boys & Girls Club is introducing two new programs, Wright said: the junior staff program and “Graduate for Mas.”
Through the junior staff program, the club staff will be working with teenagers at the club to teach them employment and interview skills. Through a competition, some teenagers will have the chance to earn a summer job at the Boys & Girls Club based on their performance in the program and in their school.
“The program teaches character, leadership, community service and it helps with all the skills they will need in a job hunt,” Wright said.
Program Director Samantha Kerley said the “Graduate for Mas” program, sponsored through a Taco Bell partnership, helps students prepare with major transitions in their education life.
“The program is designed to help middle school students transition to high school, and for high school students to transition to college or the workforce,” Kerley said.
During the summer program, Wright said children “load up on experiential field trips” throughout the region. Members get to participate in fun learning activities at the club, and also get to go on field trips to historic sites, museums and other similar places. Teens in the summer program go to visit regional colleges, such as Northeast State Community College, East Tennessee State University, Carson Newman College, Appalachian State University and University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Wright estimates the club hosts around 70 students each day in the after-school program and around 130 a day in the summer program.

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