Helping Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana
Updated: Jan 31
Local support directly impacts thousands of youth served by Clubs.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — When you make a list of local athletes who have benefited from their days at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana, you understand the impact the clubs have on this community.
Before Jamon Brown became a formidable offensive tackle at Fern Creek High School, the University of Louisville and the NFL, Brown burned adolescent energy at one of the nine area Boys & Girls Clubs facilities.
“It was a safe haven, to be out amongst your friends but not on the streets where a lot of dangerous situations happen,” Brown said.
Ditto for DeVante Parker. The clubs assisted him on his path to Ballard, U of L and the Miami Dolphins. Michael Bush was also a fan. He played at the clubs before he advanced to Male High School, U of L and the NFL.
After Justin Thomas transitioned into life on the PGA Tour, the club connected with him, too. Thomas made a generous contribution to the BGGK leadership program when he discovered what the clubs mean to so many youths in Kentuckiana, with their focus on academics, healthy lifestyle and leadership as well as athletic activities.
In 2019, the clubs served more than 3,300 local youths. About 52% were 12 or under, while 93% qualified for free or reduced price school lunches. They’re vibrant — and important.
The Club depends upon contributions — contributions of money and time. Always has. Always will.
What the club would love, said president and chief executive officer Jennifer Helgeson, is additional support from other local athletes who are club alumni — as well as from other interested supporters.
Contributions can be made at bgcky.org.
“The club was always very impactful for me,” Brown said. “It’s an organization that I have always done things with and will continue to do things with. It’s an important part of our community.”
The mission will always be there. It’s there today, even though restrictions created by the novel coronavirus forced layoffs of part-time employees as well as the closure of the local facilities. The BGCK has attempted to expand its virtual platform.
There’s work to do, especially food to distribute. During the pandemic, the Boys & Girls clubs have distributed 900 meals per day — a breakfast/lunch combination in late morning, dinner in late afternoon.
With the assistance of Dare to Care, Jefferson County Public Schools and Taco Bell, the clubs have shared those meals at Newburg, Parkland and Shawnee, three of the nine area locations.
“I give kudos to all of our staff,” Helgeson said. “The unit director, the team leader and academic specialist are showing up every day.”
Last Friday, tied to the festivities of Kentucky Derby Week, the Club planned a special event for local youth that featured Parker and several NFL friends.
They were scheduled to distribute backpacks and other gifts while issuing a call for community action. The pandemic forced a postponement. Another fundraiser was also delayed.
What has not been delayed, however, is the need to deliver those 900 meals per day as well as the challenge of creating a plan to serve area youth whose access to facilities will be limited even after the clubs reopen in the pandemic environment.
“We know it’s going to look very different,” Helgeson said. “As we move to June and July, typically we would have thousands, and that’s no exaggeration, thousands of kids walking through our doors during the summer each and every day.
“That will not look the same.
“We likely will have to reduce numbers. We’ll have to think about safety requirements, social distancing inside the clubs.
“As we are thinking about what this new normal looks like, we know the need is going to be larger than it’s ever been before.
“Our kids are going to be in the homes where some of them already struggle with food and security and with having enough resources financially. Because most of the kids we serve are on the poverty scale.”
In other words, the clubs would love more support. The challenge has only grown. The future has become more uncertain.
“The need is as high as it’s ever been but at the same time there are some challenges with funding as you can imagine,” said Adrian Brown of German American Bank, who serves on the BGCK board of directors.
“We’re trying to make sure we can continue the program we’ve been able to do.”
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From WDRB, (May 7, 2020). Read the original article here.