The Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines Block Party
Jul 11, 2019 | By: Zoe Martin Photography
Developing responsible, caring, productive adults doesn't happen by accident. This is the goal of the Boys and Girls Clubs; to impact as many kids as possible. While they offer after-school, care, help with homework and tutoring through Project Learn and Power Hour, and provide recreation and character development there is so much more that children who participate will get from this program. When the children reach adolescence they can participate in Strong Girls or Pathway to Manhood. They can be nominated for the National Youth of the Year award that meets in Austin, Texas. A youth who would like to be chosen will need to be prepared for public speaking and write an essay about why they would like to be involved.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines participated in a Block Party hosted by several nonprofits in the area last week. Paula Martin Jones Recreational Center, Thrive360, The Martin House Children's Advocacy Center, Longview Fire Department, and Longview Child Development Center came together to put on a fun-filled afternoon for the kids. Before I arrived there was face painting, hot dogs, and kickball. The LFD was about to turn on the waterworks when I showed up.
Watching the children ages 5 to 18 anticipate the water falling from the truck was pretty neat. The anticipation was evident on their faces. Once the ladder was elevated they turned on the hose and those kids got showered for a good amount of time. There were puddles underfoot where the children decided to slide into. Some grabbed staff members into the mist. I enjoyed watching them cool off in a memorable way.
After the LPD turned off the water the children were divided into age groups for a water balloon fight. It wasn't easy to corral them. The hardest part for the kids must have been the will power needed to hold onto the balloons until they were told they could launch them. It was then that I should have gotten out of the line of fire. Oops!
The Block Party was just one of the many things that the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines offers the children who participate in their after-school program. Summer enrichment is in full swing right now. With a staff that has served from two years up to twenty years, you can see the stability the program offers the participants. Many of the volunteers are teachers or teacher's assistants who have a heart for children. The intent for the summer months is educational encouraging reading by the students. They are blessed to collaborate with the Workforce Development Center, Jr. Achievement, the Ag Extension, 4-H, the Jr. League, LPD minicamp, Toast Masters, as well as individuals willing to donate their time to teach art, gymnastics, and the like.
I recently met the new CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines, Chad Patterson. Although he's only been with them for two months, he has already anchored himself to the facility, the children, the staff and volunteers. One of the things I noticed when I was at the Block Party was the appreciation of everyone when they're together. It was definitely a joy to be there that day.
Five counties are served by the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Pines, allowing offices in both Longview and Marshall, which also serve as service centers for kids and teens. However, there are Boys and Girls Clubs in different communities that are able to offer specific things to their local Clubs. For instance, the Superintendent, Dr. Guidry, over Spring Hill took it upon himself to provide bus transportation for the children to take field trips to the Tyler Zoo, WOW, the Splash Pad, and to a local kickball tournament this summer. While Mr. Patterson would love to be able to provide field trips like this to all the clubs, finances won't allow it.
60%-70% of the families served are on the free/reduced lunch program. Families are able to pay on a sliding scale fee hence fundraisers are a necessity to keep the program running. Grants, the BTAC, and increased individual/corporate giving make up the slack that remains from the 50% received from fees taken in.
Some of the fundraisers include
the Great Futures Campaign with a goal to engage people in the mission
the Otis Hill Golf Tournament
the Champions Luncheon, which they're hoping to reinstate soon
While I always seem to give a little piece of my heart to the nonprofits I write about, Mr. Patterson left me with a knowledge nugget that I have to share with you. Obviously, the Boys and Girls Club is considered a "nonprofit' organization, however as Chad noted, "There is a profit. We get to impact lives."
Would you like to help be the kind of impact that a child can look back on and appreciate one day? If so, opportunity knocks. They can always use volunteers who are willing to help children learn. If you are able to teach a skill, a talent, or have a heart for young people, then I encourage you to apply by clicking here.
Special thanks to Johnn Nustad, who sits on the Longview Advisory Council and on the Board of Governors, for connecting me to Chad Patterson. I appreciate the LAC and the Board of Directors of the Big Pines for representing the need for local advocacy.
One last thing, if you don't have time or talent but are able to give monetarily, you can do so here or contact them to find out how you can adopt a site.