Boys & Girls Club a com­mu­nity trea­sure

Greenwich Time - - OPINION HAVE YOUR SAY - Joan Lowe is a re­tired teacher, coun­selor, so­cial worker with Green­wich Pub­lic Schools.

Bravo to the staff of the Boys & Girls Club of Green­wich! Their daily con­tri­bu­tions and sup­port of the chil­dren of Green­wich con­tinue to make the Boys and Girls Club a gift to the fam­i­lies and chil­dren of our com­mu­nity. Here are just five ex­am­ples of the work the staff does to en­rich the lives of our chil­dren.

Pro­gram op­por­tu­ni­ties for all chil­dren: In ad­di­tion to the many ath­letic pro­grams of­fered at the club, there is a won­der­ful Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter on the sec­ond floor of the club. Stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to learn com­puter skills and im­prove and prac­tice their artis­tic tal­ents. In ad­di­tion, there is a Home­work Club that meets after school where more than 100 chil­dren com­plete their home­work each day with the help of staff and vol­un­teers. Other ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram are of­fered or cre­ated and re­cently a Fi­nan­cial Cham­pi­ons Pi­lot Pro­gram now of­fers a six-week course in help­ing chil­dren learn about fi­nances and man­ag­ing per­sonal fi­nances.

Read­ing Cham­pi­ons Pro­gram: I have been the vol­un­teer Site Li­ai­son for the Read­ing Cham­pi­ons Pro­gram of the United Way at the Boys & Girls Club of Green­wich since the pro­gram be­gan at the club eight years ago. In that po­si­tion, I have had the priv­i­lege of work­ing with and watch­ing the staff’s en­thu­si­asm and ded­i­ca­tion to the club and to the more than 300 chil­dren who at­tend the club daily. The staff is an amaz­ing group! They care about the chil­dren and are al­ways will­ing to help chil­dren learn, re­spect each other and fol­low the high be­hav­ioral and ed­u­ca­tional ex­pec­ta­tions the club sets for all chil­dren. In our eight years at the club sev­eral hun­dred chil­dren have worked with the RC Tu­tors of the United Way and have im­proved their read­ing skills and aca­demic con­fi­dence. The ed­u­ca­tion staff at the club cre­ated a won­der­ful teach­ing area for the pro­gram and works hard to con­tact fam­i­lies about the pro­gram. The staff sched­ules all tu­to­ri­als, re­minds stu­dents of their tu­to­rial day/ time and com­mu­ni­cates with the schools and the fam­i­lies about the stu­dents’ progress. Their work and ded­i­ca­tion has helped this pro­gram grow each year. In 2010 we be­gan with four tu­tors and eight stu­dents. To­day, we have 18 tu­tors who work with 44 stu­dents.

Cos Cob School’s emer­gency clo­sure: When Cos Cob School was forced to close be­cause of a wa­ter main break, the ad­min­is­tra­tion and staff of the club opened its doors early and in­vited fam­i­lies to send their chil­dren to the club dur­ing the school day. The staff not only pro­vided a safe place for chil­dren but of­fered many ac­tiv­i­ties to all chil­dren. More than a hun­dred chil­dren at­tended the club daily dur­ing the week when Cos Cob School was closed and these chil­dren par­tic­i­pated in the club’s many ac­tiv­i­ties un­til their classes re-opened.

Snow emer­gency: Last week many school buses filled with chil­dren were stranded be­cause of the sur­prise sever­ity of the road con­di­tions. The po­lice were con­cerned about the safety of the chil­dren and im­me­di­ately turned to the Boys & Girls Club for as­sis­tance. With the help of the po­lice and the staff of the club many chil­dren were es­corted to the club where they were wel­comed by the staff that stayed late to pro­vide a safe place for these chil­dren. In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing fun ac­tiv­i­ties for these chil­dren, the staff also pre­pared hot meals for all. Pizza was or­dered and sev­eral of the staff mem­bers set up a cook­ing sta­tion where they made and served pan­cakes to all chil­dren. Staff mem­bers stayed with the chil­dren un­til ev­ery child had ap­pro­pri­ate and safe trans­porta­tion to their homes.

Pos­i­tive role mod­els and men­tors: The staff mem­bers of the Boys & Girls Club are com­mit­ted to men­tor­ing the club’s young mem­bers. Chil­dren of­ten model the be­hav­iors they see and the club’s staff al­ways demon­strates good sports­man­ship, pos­i­tive com­pe­ti­tion, re­spect for oth­ers, and the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion. They set high ex­pec­ta­tions and goals for each child and then work to help chil­dren meet these goals.

These are just five ex­am­ples of how the Boys & Girls Club works to im­prove the lives of so many of the chil­dren in our com­mu­nity. I am con­stantly im­pressed by the cre­ativ­ity of the staff and their will­ing­ness to lis­ten to ideas and then plan pro­grams that are ben­e­fi­cial to our chil­dren. The at­mos­phere in the club is al­ways pos­i­tive and chil­dren are re­spected at all times. Les­sons are learned, pos­i­tive re­spect for oth­ers is ex­pected and a com­mit­ment to work for higher per­sonal, ath­letic and aca­demic goals is al­ways en­cour­aged.

Bravo to the Boys & Girls Club, a won­der­ful gift to the Green­wich com­mu­nity. And very sin­cere and well-earned bravo to all the staff mem­bers who have cre­ated such a pos­i­tive and sup­port­ive cul­ture.

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