Imagine the anticipation and thrill of driving to Busch Gardens with your family for the first time, planning out the rides and attractions you will race to first. Feel the awe and wonder at realizing your own knowledge while learning to code. Picture the pride of sharing your works of art in a juried showcase for strangers to admire.
Those feelings and moments are what I am most thankful for this year. Thanks to you, our Club members were able to experience these things for the first time in their lives. 2017 has been a year of new opportunities thanks to all of our advocates, donors, volunteers, and staff.
This year was filled with big new opportunities, but each of them is only possible thanks to every single member of our Boys & Girls Clubs family. No matter how big or small a role you play, know that you have made a difference.
To our caring staff and volunteers, thank you for the countless hours you spend developing positive and caring relationships with Club members. You provide stability to so many children who may not find security in other areas of their lives. Thank you for filling a role in their lives that is so desperately needed.
Thank you to the volunteers, staff, and donors who have made our new Fine Arts Program possible. Our Club members look forward to practicing and working on their pieces. In January the best pieces were showcased in a juried exposition and the winning pieces were sent to a nation wide competition. Our kids were thrilled to show off their hard work and talent, and to have professional artists offer feedback and awards.
To our dedicated board members, thank you for endlessly advocating for our mission. You develop relationships and forge opportunities to help us serve more members, more often. Thank you for providing life-changing opportunities for our members.
To our generous donors, thank you for your continued support. Many of our members’ families are never charged a penny for our services. Your financial support means that thousands of youth have a home away from home full of caring and trusted mentors and friends. Thank you for helping us develop young children into caring, responsible, and productive citizens that go on to lead productive lives.
Thank you to Busch Gardens for donating admission tickets to our members. We were able to schedule family field trips so that our members could experience the excitement with their parents and siblings. Our teens especially enjoyed the spooky thrills of Hallowscream, and the younger kids got to ride roller coasters for the first time in their lives.
Thank you to the Shipyard for donating hundreds of laptops to our Club computer labs and for the grant that funds our STEM programs. This technology and funding has allowed our members to learn skills that will set them up for success. From building LEGO robots, to launching soda bottle rockets, to learning to code, our members will be ready to enter the workforce.
To our Club members both past and present, thank you for your tenacity, joy, and infectious spirit. Every day you teach us valuable lessons. Many of you have struggled with adversity in your young lives but have shown great courage in overcoming your obstacles. Thank you for acting as role models among your peers in the community and for leading the way through service, leadership, and scholarship.
Thank you to every member of our Boys & Girls Clubs family for Opening Doors to Great Futures in our community.
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday and hope you are fortunate enough to spend it with those you love.
With many thanks,
President & CEO
During the month of October, Buffalo Wild Wings has been teaming up to inspire kids to be active.
“There is a Champion in every Child. We are committed to helping build communities where all kids can thrive, compete and belong to a team” Said a Buffalo Wild Wings Representative.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula (BGCVP) has always strongly believed in five program areas: Character & leadership development, Education & Career development, Health & Life Skills, Sports & Recreational Fitness, and the Arts. During October, Buffalo Wild Wings and BGCVP are focusing on healthy life skills and sports & recreational fitness.
Being part of a team is more than just winning, it’s about the experience of belonging to a team or group, understanding sportsmanship, using teamwork to reach a goal, and most importantly building self-esteem through fun group activities. (Below youth participate in the world day of play)
Team sports are designed to build character and teach young people skills that help them succeed on and off the field. Playing team sports greatly effects youth because it exposes them to different sets of group dynamics that help them learn valuable social skills will living a healthier life.
Buffalo Wild Wings and BGCVP believe that every child deserves the opportunity to learn the life lessons that come with being part of a team.
By 2020, Buffalo Wild Wings hopes to donate more than $16 million to Clubs and Programs that foster team building activities. Donations will go towards Boys & Girls Clubs of America(BGCA) All-Star Grant program that is focused on providing children with positive reinforcement in sports and creating a healthier lifestyle.
The All-Star Grant helps clubs make sure that each club has up to date jerseys, equipment, coach training and facilities so they can provide the best experience to the children. Grants like this allow BGCVP access to great facilities like Townebank Athletic Park (pictured above: Youth rounding the bases and an aerial shot of Townebank Athletic Park).
This grant is excellent for BGCVP because our Clubs are always playing sports. Throughout the year, our Clubs participate in interclub leagues for basketball, football, Mushball (Softball), cheer leading and more. Our interclub leagues are great because the games are friendly and build good team skills and sportsmanship. (Below Mathews and Peninsula after a game of baseball)
Aside from interclub leagues, we enter our kids into many other leagues!
This year, all our clubs participated in the InTouch Basketball Tournament, which our Peninsula Club won. InTouch Basketball was designed by our community and local law enforcement to be build a closer community.
Our Greater Hampton Roads(GHR) Spartans had another great season in 2016, winning the local PYFCO (Peninsula Youth Football and Cheer-leading Organization) “Superbowl”. Led by Area Director Donald Johnson, our GHR Spartans loves using their astro-turf home field. (Below is a slideshow of team activities that happened at the Clubs or Townebank Athletic Park)
How can you get involved?
Until October 31st, stop by your local Buffalo Wild Wings and buy a bottle of sauce or seasoning where $1 of each sale goes to BGCA. If the family wants to join, dine-in and support BGCA buy buying a $1 pin-up or a limited-edition wristband for $5 (while supplies last). Location of valid Buffalo Wild Wings are located below.
12150 Jefferson Ave. Newport News, VA
4918 Courthouse St. Williamsburg, VA
4201 Kilgore Ave. Hampton VA
Make sure to support before time runs out!
For more information on how Buffalo Wild Wings is teaming up with BGCVP visit
We recently sat down with board member Glen Davenport to learn about his experience with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula (BGCVP). With more than 50 years of involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs Movement, Glen Davenport has seen a lot of transformation during his time with the organization. Originally a member of Boys Club of Newport News before it became Boys & Girls Clubs, Mr. Davenport has experienced many different positions with BGCVP and has enjoyed each role he has played.
Read the interview below to find out about his unique perspective:
BGCVP: How long have you been involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula?
Davenport: I have been a part of the community of the Virginia Peninsula for more than 50 years. I was born on the Peninsula and attended Newport News High School. While growing up, I attended the Boys Club on the corner of Jefferson and Hilton near downtown Newport News(Below). After graduating high school, I attended Christopher Newport College and then opened up my business in the local area. After a few years of getting settled and establishing Teagle Insurance Agency, I became involved with Boys Club of Newport News as a board member.
BGCVP: What roles have you taken as an alumnus of the Clubs?
Davenport: As an alumnus, I involved myself with Boys Clubs of Newport News around 1983. One of the first positions I held was that of the President of the Board of Directors which helps oversee the governance of the organization. One of the first projects that the board and I undertook was the relocation of the Club on Jefferson Ave. We noticed that the numbers at the Club had slowly been falling and something had to be done. After researching the Peninsula and its families, the board and I decided to move the Club to a more effective location. This move ended up being very successful and provided access to our services to a larger range of families.
The relocated Club is our present day Peninsula Unit and happens to be the first one million dollar philanthropic ask on the Peninsula.
One of my favorite projects was serving as a liaison to the Girls Clubs before they combined with Boys Clubs. In 1991, as a member of the board, we conducted research on the effectiveness of clubs and introduced a plan to combine the two organizations. Although we had a little concern from a few board members of both organizations, the combination of the two organizations was a monumental merger for us as it began the organization we know and love today.
(Left: is the original Boys Clubs logo)
BGCVP: Why have you chosen to stay involved with BGCVP for so long?
Davenport: I feel like I’m giving up a great opportunity when I miss a board meeting. The board meetings are a fun experience because we are working on ways to better our community. You feel good when you leave the meetings because you see the impact on the kids and also the economic impact on the community. Board members of BGCVP, like me, usually don’t want to leave the board because we are able to see the positive impact of our actions in the community.
BGCVP: What is the most impressive undertaking of BGCVP that you have been a part of?
Davenport: My favorite part of BGCVP is our ability to maintain growth in hard times. Our biggest undertaking of BGCVP was the building of the Peninsula unit(Below) in the Denbigh community, that I mentioned earlier. This move came after we did research on the communities of the peninsula and saw what communities needed our services most. The reason I think it was one of the biggest projects by the Board and BGCVP was that this was the first one million dollar philanthropic solicitation on the Peninsula. This move was important because it doubled the capacity for members on the Peninsula and was such a large business deal that Mayor Jesse Rattley had to be included in discussions.
BGCVP: What do you think of your time on the Board of Directors for BGCVP and what can we expect from the board in the future?
Davenport: Being on the Board of Directors at BGCVP is one of my favorite investments in the Peninsula. I have had such a fun time being a part of the Board for 34 years because we are successful in creating a better community for our kids. No matter what is happening politically in the world, the board members and I have one goal in mind, the kids of the Virginia Peninsula.
I am amazed at the level of consistency in service that BGCVP and the Board have been able to provide the youth of Newport News. When we take our time and do the right research, the Board is very effective in creating programs that greatly benefit the community. In the future, I would like to see BGCVP stretch deeper in Hampton to provide more service to as many kids as possible. As we have proven, good programs plus child involvement equals a positive community and I believe there is still room to open doors in our community.
We thank Mr. Davenport for his extended service to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula and look forward to his continued leadership.
How many days does it take to bike 4,000 miles? Is there a price that could convince you to do it? If someone offered you $10,000 to bike across the country, would you take it?
Jim Warner, 31, is embarking on an adventure to travel across the country, and his only mode of transportation is his bike, “Frank the Tank.” Instead of getting paid to bike across the country, however, Jim will be paying it forward by donating raised funds to Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula (BGCVP).
Jim, originally from New York, moved to Newport News several years ago to work at NASA Langley Research Center as a computer scientist and researcher. His goal is to raise $10,000 for BGCVP as he bikes from the coast of Oregon to the coast of Virginia. The total mileage of the trip is estimated at 4,000 miles.
On July 28th, Jim began his ride on Oceanside Beach in Oregon(Above, Jim at Oceanside Beach). He plans to base his route off the TransAmerica Bicycle trail that stretches from Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia.
"People ask me if I've got all the routes planned out," he said. "No, no, not at all. I'm just going to break the long ride down into little chunks and try to enjoy it along the way."
Jim plans to bike 60 to 70 miles a day as he makes this amazing cross-country journey. He has also brought along his laptop so he can work during his down time.
In his first week on the expedition, Jim traveled a long 525 miles. (Right, Jim crossing into Portland after 85 miles of biking on day 1)
Why choose Boys & Girls Clubs to support? From personal experience, Jim has a passion for helping undeserved youth.
“My parents struggled to make ends meet growing up, so I’ve always felt sympathetic to those less fortunate. As a first generation college student, part of my drive to succeed was to put myself in a position where I could eventually give back to groups like Boys & Girls Clubs who help those who need it most,” Jim said.
In addition, Jim has a personal connection to the Boys & Girls Club movement.
“My own father benefitted from the organization when he was growing up on the streets of Chicago,” Jim said.
Before embarking on his two-month journey, Jim toured several of the local Clubs – Pinedale Manor, Greater Hampton Roads, and Crossroads Village. (Below are pictures from his tours at Pinedale Manor and Crossroads Village)
“After seeing the positive impact it’s having on the kids first hand, I felt compelled to help. I was especially impressed by how professional the young kids were who gave the tours, seeing how much promise kids in this area can have if they are given a safe place to grow and mature into adults,” said Jim.
Fundraising is nothing new for Jim who recently turned his birthday into a fundraiser for BGCVP and Binghampton University Rowing. For his birthday in April, Jim told all his friends and family to take the money they would of spent on a present for him, and donate it to the fundraiser. He doubled his goal by raising $2,050 for the two organizations.
When asked how he would succeed at raising $10,000, Jim remarked, “Sure, $10K sounds like a huge goal, and by far the most I’ve ever tried to raise, but you know what - 4000 miles is pretty far too. We are just going to slowly chip away at both of these seemingly daunting goals one day at a time, together.”
The voyage is more than a fundraiser, though. The road trip has been on Jim’s bucket list for some time, and he expects to gain a new appreciation for life. (Below right is a picture of "Frank the Tank" ready for the road, Left is Jim at a campsite during his first week)
”I think above all I want to gain a greater appreciation for all that I have in my life, down to the simple things like a warm shower and comfy bed, which I’m sure I’ll be missing after weeks of sleeping on couches and in tents,” he said.
Jim has been documenting his adventure on his Facebook page “Jim Bikes America” where he provides followers with daily updates and pictures from his travel.
Kids from Crossroads Village Club made this video for Jim
Check out where in America Jim is by clicking HERE!
To donate to Jim Bikes America, go to YouCaring.com
Jim was also featured in The Daily Press and NASA Langely’s website.
“It’s not fair to expect young men to know how to act in society without positive role models to instill morals and values at an early age,” said Area Director Cameron Bertrand.
Passport to Manhood is preparing today’s young males to be tomorrow’s driven gentlemen.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula’s(BGCVP) Passport to Manhood is an in-depth 14-session training that prepares young males for adult life through 1-on-1 and peer mentoring. As Cameron Bertrand, Area Director and Passport to Manhood Facilitator, says “Becoming a man has nothing to do with age, manhood is about understanding dependability, accountability, and responsibility.”
At Pinedale Manor, fourteen young men have committed themselves to changing their futures for the better. By joining Passport to Manhood, they agree to take control of their own futures.
The passage from boyhood to manhood is challenging. There will be many tough decisions, transitions, and obstacles that make it difficult. Some young men are not able to weather the change to adulthood. As Bertrand says “Passport to Manhood is a program that teaches these young men how to make smart decision in tough situations.”
Passport to Manhood puts emphasis on three pillars that are designed to empower the individual:
Through service projects and mentoring, members develop a positive vision of manhood. For a number of Mr. Bertrand’s mentees, there is a lack of positive role models outside of the Club, which can lead to problems in identity. With committed mentors from Quality of Life Counseling Center and Ferguson Enterprises, Cameron and his group of three other mentors built the necessary relationships to inspire a positive change in seven young males’ lives. The mentors (Dorion Jackson, Shaka Smith, Deueyne Hickman) left lasting impressions on the young men by being involved in these individuals lives.
One of the pillars Cameron has stressed to the young men is, “don’t retaliate; realize the change that needs to happen and make it happen.”
Dyel Eason 19(right), is the Club's first Passport to Manhood graduate. For him, realizing that change was needed was all too real. Before he was wrestling for Washington State across the country, Dyel was an average teen in Newport News, Va. After making a couple poor decisions, Dyel was arrested and incarcerated for a short period of time. One of his first actions following his release was joining the Pinedale Manor Club. This decision changed his life forever when he met Cameron Bertrand and his group of mentors. Passport to Manhood got Dyel on the right track again and helped him receive a scholarship to go across the country to attend Garys Harbor College in Washington state .
“No one in my family has done this before, both college and going across the country. I had nothing when I began. Why can’t others follow in my foot steps and break the cycle? I hope others follow my path and use the doors that are open to them,” said Dyel, who is now back at the Club as an employee and is an example of what Passport to Manhood is capable of motivating young men to do.
"Coming back to the Club to help after my first year of college is crazy, I didn't expect that the Club and mentors would become my second family."
Although Cameron and the mentors can’t change the past, they can prepare for the future. A key element of Passport to Manhood is preparing the young men for the workplace. The mentors worked with the young men on creating initial, middle, and end goals that would help them succeed in their fields of interest.
For DeSean Williams 18, one of the young men, having strong role models has not always been an option. Before becoming a part of the Pinedale Manor Club, DeSean had struggled with low self-esteem that stemmed from being a victim of bullying. As soon as he joined the Club, he built a strong relationship with Cameron who wanted to empower him. “Cameron became my dad,” said DeSean.
Through Passport to Manhood, DeSean met another mentor, Dorion Jackson, who he now views as an “uncle”. The mentors worked on DeSean’s inner confidence while also preparing him academically.
Dorion and Cameron even attended Desean's graduation as pictured left.
DeSean made a major mental turn-around as a result of the invested mentors and graduated from high school this past month. He will be attending Norfolk State University this coming year where he hopes to study public administration. When DeSean heard the news that he would be a Spartan in the fall, he texted Dorion about his excitement and thanks.
Because of the impact BGCVP and his mentors have had on DeSean, his goal in life is to return to the organization as an employee after receiving his college degree and eventually become CEO.
Another example of Passport to Manhood building a driven individual ready for the work place is with Chaquan and his desire to be a graphic design artist.
Chaquan Ponds 17, is one of the young men on the journey toward manhood. He lives with his mother and three siblings, and is the man of the house. “When I decided to walk over to the Club, it was because I was bored of sitting at home doing nothing.” When he first came into the Club, Chaquan isolated himself, even calling himself “anti-social.” Although he likes art, “he refused to show anyone his works for the first couple weeks, I would have to look over his shoulder” said Bertrand.
Through Passport to Manhood, he has developed healthy relationships with other kids his age and the mentors. “Passport to Manhood taught me how to stop lashing out with my emotions; I understood that I had friends that I could talk to, and who would help me before I had to ask” said Chaquan.
“As a young man and an artist, my mentors have forced me to try new things in the fields that interest me. Even though I am color blind, Cameron knows that I am passionate about art and design, so he challenges me to produce different styles of work, trying new patterns and using more colors,” Said Chaquan.
Most recently, the Passport to Manhood mentors urged Chaquan to design the Club’s basketball uniforms which he is very proud of. In the last year, Chaquan has been tasked with creating designs for Mayor Price's anti-bullying campaign and for BGCVP’s Ignite the Youth event. His mentors have worked with him to develop a network of other artists and helped him put together a portfolio of his works.
Here are a collections of some of his works including an unfinished design for this year's anti bullying campaign by mayor McKinley.
As for Cameron’s perspective on Passport to Manhood, he says “we are breaking the cycle. Retaliation is the easy way out; we are causing change which is hard to do at a young age. I knew going in that if I wanted to cause a change in these kids, I was going to need dependable men that would not leave them. At first I was frustrated that I was the closest thing to a father these kids had, but then I embraced the role of having a direct impact on young males’ lives and used it for good.”
Although the process has not been easy, and understanding the direct impact he has on these children is heavy, with the help of his fellow mentors, they have begun to take back the community.
Passport to Manhood is determined on developing teens into active and positive individuals ready to make a difference in the community. A large thank you goes out Cameron Bertrand, Dorion Jackson, Shaka Smith, and Deueyne Hickman for dedicating their time to changing the future of young individuals.
Wavy 10 News recently featured this program in an article. Click Here to read the Wavy 10 article. Prefer video? Here is their feature from the "Taking Back the Community" series.
When the final bell rings to signify the start of summer break, most kids joyfully bound out of the classroom planning their months of freedom and fun. Pool days, family vacations, exploring the outdoors, hours of video game or movie marathons – this is what many kids have to look forward to during the summer months. Unfortunately, there are also children who are filled with dread at the sound of that final bell. For these students, summer means hunger. Without their free or reduced-price lunch and breakfast provided at school, they face hunger and the challenges and repercussions of food insecurity.
According to Feeding America, 20% of food-insecure children live in households that earn too much to qualify for most federal nutrition assistance and rely on charitable organizations to make ends meet.
To combat this issue, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula has become a registered USDA Summer Food Service Program. All 13 Clubs, as well as additional locations sponsored through BGCA, will be serving meals on a first come, first served basis to any child up to 18 years of age. If you or someone you know is facing hunger or need a small amount of assistance to make ends meet, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula is a resource open to the community.
Throughout the school year, BGCVP provides a free meal to all members at qualifying locations through our EatSMART program. EatSMART is also a USDA funded program that provides access to food for the youth who need it most. This year we have decided to expand EatSMART to all community children to combat summer hunger and food scarcity. “Our mission is to serve all young people, especially those who need us most, so we felt it was our responsibility to give access to any hungry child, not just our Club members,” said Hal Smith, President & CEO.
Membership at a Boys & Girls Club is not required to receive meals through the EatSMART Summer Food Service program, but they are available on a first come, first served basis. The chart below shows the locations and times that meals are available. In addition to these “open” sites that serve any child 18 years of age or younger, BGCVP is also hosting feeding sites at additional locations such as the YMCA.
The YMCA locations are not considered “open” sites by USDA regulations. Membership or registration at the YMCA is not required, but other requirements must be met to be eligible for the meals. To be eligible to receive free meals at a residential or non-residential camp (such as YMCA), children must meet the income guidelines for reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program. Children who are part of households that receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits or benefits under the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reserves (FDPIR), or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible to receive free meals.
The 2017 Summer Food Service Program will take place June 19-August 25, 2017. Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meals will be provided on a first come, first served basis.
Please share this service with anyone you may know in need of lunch and snack this summer!
Members at the Crossroads Village Unit have collectively walked 866 miles!
Why and how did they accomplish this incredible feat?
A Walking Club Is Created
The idea for the walking club came from one of the Club staff Ms. Kecia, who wanted to give the kids a change up from their everyday scenery. Ms. Kecia noticed that the children at Crossroads Village had enormous amounts of energy, but did not always have enough space to expend that energy. So, she drew up plans to start a basic club that would walk the kids around the area.
A walking club is a group of people that decide to walk together with a common goal. In this case, the club members wanted to be healthy, but did not want to follow a treadmill gym routine. Members of the walking club at Crossroad Village each set a goal of walking 25 miles, throughout a 3 month period.
Why Is The Walking Club Important?
This group is important because this club was entirely powered by the members of Crossroads Village. Although the idea originated with a staff member, the children took initiative and turned it into a club.
The club proved to be a success in creating a positive outlet for the children to exercise and interact in a healthy manor.
Although it sounds simple, it worked! “It was nothing crazy, just a change” Ms. Kecia said as 34 members joined her club and began embarking on voyages around the Club.
Within a week of forming the club, the members of Crossroads Village fell in love with the group activity. Ms. Kecia mentioned that the most frequently asked question during March and April was “Has the walking club left yet?”
Raqayyah, one of the walkers mentioned “I liked the walking club because it was relaxing and we always had everyone with us”.
Myeil, another member of the walking club, said “I like being a part of the walking club because I get to exercise with my friends”.
As Ms. Kecia mentioned about the program “It went better than expected, the kids are more interested in nature and they are more controllable energy wise”.
Below is a video of two of the walkers on their daily walk.
The club began walking in early March of this year and recently hit its goal by having all walkers complete 25 miles before the end of May.
In addition to exercise, Ms.Kecia hoped the club would lead the members to appreciate nature more. This was definitely an outcome of the walking club as Damauris, one of the walking club members, noted “my favorite part of the walking club is watching the sunset.”
The sunset wasn’t the only thing that caught the walker’s eyes, as one of the highlights of the club was observing a box turtle that was discovered on the Club’s property. Ms.Kecia believes the kids wouldn’t of noticed the turtle if the walking club hadn’t broadened the kids appreciation for nature.
On May 22nd, the Crossroads Village Torch Club organized a certificate ceremony for the members that walked 25 miles in total. To keep in line with making healthy choices during the celebration, the Torch Club made fresh strawberry and banana fruit smoothies as a reward. The children who walked over 25 miles received certificates to commemorate their achievement. They were also praised for collectively walking 866 miles, which exceeded the goal.
Although a walking club may sound boring and simple to some, it was the simplicity that made this program effective. Club members didn’t feel like walking was a hard task, rather it was relaxing and fun. The walking club was an instant hit with the kids and staff at Crossroads Village!
Thank you to Ms. Kecia for dedicating your time to guiding the children of Crossroads Village to be healthy individuals. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula is focused on empowering young individuals to be active in the community and active physically. Living a healthy lifestyle is the first step to creating a healthy community.
Comment below and let us know what you think about the Crossroads Village walking club.
When classrooms started phasing out homework, Boys & Girls Club staff had to get creative about “Power Hour.”
“Power Hour is our homework help program we run every day after school, and we often recruit volunteer tutors, or the older kids help the younger kids” said Area Director Eric Battle.
The timing varies at each Club, but typically “Power Hour” begins after kids have time to settle in and run around for 30 minutes after school. Although it doesn’t always last the full hour, members are required to use this time for academics.
“If a member says he or she doesn’t have homework, then typically we find him or her a book to read,” said Battle. “But when we realized that teachers were phasing out homework and many kids didn’t have something to work on, we knew we needed to get creative.”
Youth Development Professional Deborah Gregory at the York Club also works during the day as a Para-educator in the York County Public School system.
“I saw a lot of kids struggling with reading during the day, and not all of our Club members have family at home that can or want to take the time to read with them, so I figured we would put our efforts there,” said Gregory.
They started with second graders and called the program, “Rocking in our Reading Shoes.” Participants pick out a book, read the book either by themselves or with a helper, and then complete a reading “pennant.” The pennant worksheet includes the title, author, description, their personal rating, and a reason (via drawings) for the rating.
Teachers have seen significant grade increases, including some by more than a letter.
And most importantly, the kids are enjoying the program. They even decorated one of the doors in the Club in honor of “Rocking in our Reading Shoes.”(displayed below)
“I like reading because it’s fun, but also because I get to learn new things,” said Jaliyah, one of the second graders in the program.
To engage other grade levels, Ms. Gregory began pairing up third grade students with first grade students who are having trouble reading.
“I enjoy helping whenever Ms. Gregory asks me,” explained Jordan, a third grade reading tutor. “I get to read with my friends and help some of the other Club members.”
The effort has been so successful that teachers requested Gregory begin working with Club members on spelling. Now, Club members are assigned spelling lists each week depending on their grade and spelling level, and practice Monday through Wednesday.
“Members take a pre-test at the Club on Thursdays so they are ready for their weekly spelling tests on Fridays,” said Gregory.
Rocking in my Reading Shoes has been a successful program in changing the mindsets of young individuals towards valuing education and enjoying reading. Boys & Girls Clubs thanks all of the people that volunteer their time to make this program possible.
Boys & Girls Clubs prioritize academic success as one of the three main priority areas, in addition to healthy lifestyles and character & citizenship. This reading program fills a gap in the community and ensures Club members have every opportunity to succeed.
On the evening of Thursday, March 23 hundreds of guests including donors, community partners, volunteers, board members, staff and Club members gathered to celebrate our outstanding youth at the 29th Annual Steak 'N Burger Dinner. The evening included talent acts by Club members, recognition of our top volunteers, awards for community partners, and speeches by our four Youth of the Year Finalists. The evening concluded with Scott Russell of Ferguson Enterprises announcing Amanda Minick as the 2017 Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula Youth of the Year!
Amanda won over the crowd and earned a standing ovation after sharing her incredible story of rising above adversity. From a young age, Amanda has overcome sexual assault, personal tragedies, and family conflicts. Through all of this, there has been one safe constant: her local Boys & Girls Club and the Unit Director who she loves like a father.
"My Boys & Girls Club has taught me to keep my chin up and to carry my head high. My Club has helped me see my future and showed me how to help others," Amanda said about the impact of the Club.
Far less significant experiences have hindered an individual's success, but Amanda has overcome her tragedies and setbacks with a grace that is beyond her 17 years. Her Unit Director, Gary Rippel, said "Amanda doesn't dwell on the past, but focuses on the future and the success that awaits her. Amanda is a role model, a leader, and a compassionate young lady who puts others first and is focused on helping others overcome their struggles in life."
As Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula's Youth of the Year, Amanda will serve as an ambassador for the organization. The winner is also presented a scholarship and is entered into the State Youth of the Year competition for a chance to advance to Regional and National competition and represent Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Learn more about Amanda in her profile on an earlier blog post.
This post is part of a series featuring our Youth of the Year Finalists. Learn more about the Youth of the Year Process HERE. Meet She'ana HERE, Amanda HERE, and Amere HERE.
DeSean Williams is a self-assured leader. Overcoming low self-esteem from bullying, he has already proven success and was named 2016 Youth of the Year.
As a young boy without a father, DeSean struggled to teach himself how to be a man. He has said “because I lacked inner confidence and strength, I struggled with who I really was and who ‘the streets’ wanted me to be. I contemplated joining a gang, which at the time I thought would provide that acceptance I desired.” Without a positive male role model, this inner turmoil was fueled by bullying and led DeSean to thoughts of suicide.
Luckily, DeSean found himself at the Crossroads Village Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs and found the support he so desperately needed. Staff member Cameron Bertrand had such a positive impact on DeSean that when he was assigned as Area Director of two new locations, DeSean switched Clubs to stay in daily contact with him.
DeSean has found his passion as the coach of the Pinedale Manor Mustangs cheerleading team. Other Club activities he participates in include Passport to Manhood and Keystone Club. He is also extremely proud to be a leader and role model as a Junior Staff member.
“Now, I can legitimately say, ‘I’m happy.’ I am my own person, and while I might not fit into other people’s boxes, my Club taught me to have confidence in myself and my importance,” said DeSean.
At school DeSean is a member of the Hurricane Cheerleading team, school chorus, and FBLA. His favorite subjects are Economics and Personal Finance. He is completing his senior year and currently has a 3.1 GPA.
DeSean plans to attend Norfolk State University and complete a degree in business. He hopes to return to BGCA after college to serve as a Unit Director and be the role model for youth that Mr. Cameron has been to him. His long-term career goal is to eventually serve as President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula.
Do you think DeSean will win a second year in a row to be our 2017 Youth of the Year?
You can meet the other candidates HERE.
Boys & Girls Clubs