Elizabethton/Carter County Boys & Girls Club continues to serve local kids, families during the pandemic

Published 6:07 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

Even during the coronavirus quarantine, the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County is continuing to provide services and support for its Club members and their families.
Although the Club cannot serve kids in its traditional after-school program, the Club is continuing to offer kids what they have come to expect and love — support, guidance, and mentorship.
The Club’s daily outreach calls to its members’ families let them know the Club is there to help them through this time, connecting them with a variety of resources, says Ginny Wright, Chief Executive Officer for BGCEC.
“We know many breadwinners may have seen their work hours either cut back or completely eliminated,” Wright said. “With these weekly calls, we have identified the need to help several parents in completing unemployment applications as many do not have access to computers and WiFi.
“Additionally, we have helped guide them through the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)process which makes funds available through the Department of Human Services. In a couple of cases, families immediately received $750, which was added to their SNAP card, and an additional payment will come later. Several families we’ve talked to had no idea this opportunity even was available to them.”
Immediately after schools were dismissed in March, the Club began serving snacks and a dinner on a drive-by basis to kids, even offering a delivery service to make sure that those without transportation are getting fed.
“In those first two weeks we served over 1,000 meals and made about 30 deliveries to kids’ homes,” Wright said. “We even added meals to cover the weekends and we helped to make sure families got stocked up on essential items for when meal service was no longer safe. When city schools were unable to serve during spring break, we stepped in with those meals as well.”
During weekly phone calls, the Club staff checks on families to see if they are in need of food and essentials and then follows through to make sure they receive what is requested.
“Several of our families now have four or five children they are feeding throughout the day now. That wasn’t the case before school let out, so their grocery bills have gone up exponentially,” Wright pointed out.
On March 30 the Club rolled out it’s Virtual programming for Club members. Designed to help keep kids engaged in the learning experience, the staff is available to help with tutoring, mentoring and homework help as needed. Once a week staff provides a theme and a variety of programs online — reading, science, phonics, arts and crafts and physical fitness/ healthy habits.
“We want our member families to stay well and keep moving,” Wright said. “Kids can access these programs through special websites to participate. More importantly, our staff is checking in on our members and helping them to connect with one another as well. Though it may“look” a little different, we will still be that dependable, predictable part of our young people’s lives.”
In order to pay wages for full and part-time staff and afford the continuance of the Club’s programming, the BGCEC is currently involved in a comprehensive fundraising program through mail, email, Facebook and the Club’s best advocates.
“We have an outstanding team of individuals who work daily with our Club members, and the kids have come to love, respect and count on their Youth Development Professionals (YDP’s) for guidance and consistency in their lives. It is very important that we maintain those relationships,” Wright said.
To join in helping the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County with a gift, volunteering or advocating for our mission, you may go to the Club’swebsite:  https://www.bgcecc.org/donate, contact Susan Carson at scarson@bgcecc.orgor call cell (404) 642-6592.
About the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County:
The Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County enables all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens by providing a quality out-of-school experience and promoting healthy lifestyles, academic success, and good character and citizenship. We equip every child who walks through our doors to reach their own great future, turning no one away based on inability to pay. In doing so, we are making a long-lasting impact on the community and are changing the opportunity equation for everyone in it.

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