Kids in the Boys & Girls Club increase chances for success
Don’t call The Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Bend a day care.
“We are not,” said the organization’s Chief Executive Officer Kim Barrientos. “Instead, we offer children ages 6 to 18 a program of activities right after school to help them succeed academically, live healthy lifestyles and learn good character and citizenship. Those are the three core values of our organization.”
Since the Boys & Girls Club was first launched in Corpus Christi in 1957, it has grown to serve the entire Coastal Bend with three locations: two in Corpus Christi and one in Robstown. The program serves about 5,000 students a year for an affordable cost of $30 per semester. Studies have shown that members of Boys & Girls Clubs have higher grades and better attendance and behavior at their schools.
“Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need it the most, to reach full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens,” Director of Operations Valerie Burciaga said. “For a lot of our kids, we focus on academics. Doing community service teaches them to give back and become leaders. The activities help them become more positive citizens.”
Activities are designed to help children progress in their learning and social skills while also having fun in a positive and nurturing environment. Buses and vans bring students from schools to the Boys & Girls Club locations, where the first thing they do is eat a hot nutritious meal.
“We work with the food program provided by the state,” Barrientos said. “Afterwards, they go to our Learning Center, where they can receive tutoring from our volunteers or read books from our reading room.”
The Game Room is the core of most Boys & Girls Clubs, offering an assortment of video games, board games, foosball and pool tables.
“The Kinect is really popular right now,” Barrientos said. “The purpose of the Game Room is to teach good character and how to have fun and encourage your peers as opposed to getting angry when losing a game.”
The 30,000-square-foot building at 3902 Greenwood Drive also houses a gymnasium with a full basketball court and an auditorium/cafeteria. Future renovation plans include an art room and separate lounge areas for ages 11-13 and 14-18. Swimming and water safety are taught in the swimming pool, a highlight of the 15-acre lot, which also hosts two baseball fields.
Community-wide activities to raise awareness include a Day for Kids, a free community event Sept. 9 to encourage children and families to spend time together. The event will include a health fair with vendors, including flu shots provided by Walgreens, free food and games.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Bend celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with its Alumni Banquet featuring NFL Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Andre Reed. The second annual event is 6-9 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown. Table sponsorships are available. Individual tickets are $150. The event will also include a live auction for autographed footballs.
“Fundraising events keep our costs low to parents,” Burciaga said. “We also offer scholarships for kids whose parents can’t afford the membership fees due to multiple siblings or low-income situations.”
Other ways to help include donating art supplies board games, video games and anything kids could use in the youth programs. The organization also collects back-to-school supplies in the summer and toys for the holidays.
HOW TO VOLUNTEER
Volunteers are in constant demand, especially for tutoring and homework help in the Learning Center. Other volunteer opportunities include coaching the different sports programs, such as flag football and volleyball in the fall and girls and boys basketball leagues in the spring. Volunteers are needed to help with special events and provide administrative and clerical support.
To volunteer, visit the website at www.bgccb.org/volunteer and fill out the online application form. All volunteers undergo a background check.
The work is fulfilling and inspiring, Burciaga said. For her, being involved with the Boys & Girls Club has a personal meaning.
“I grew up with the Boys & Girls Club as a kid in San Antonio,” she said. “This organization gave me opportunities I never knew existed before. They even helped me fill out college applications, and I was the first one in the family to graduate. I love this organization and its mission and want to make sure that other children get the same opportunity to reach their best potential.”
The Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Bend is located at 3902 Greenwood Drive and London Elementary School at 11306 FM 43 in Corpus Christi. The Robstown location is at 401 W. Ligustrum. For more information, call (361) 853-2505 or visit www.bgccb.org.
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