Boys & Girls Clubs opening Clover teen center

cmuccigrosso@lakewyliepilot.comJuly 16, 2014 

— The Boys & Girls Clubs of York County is coming to Clover. But first, the nonprofit needs support.

“This is an opportunity to work with the community and be a part of their plan to take care of their kids,” said Executive Director David Carriker. “One of the most important things right now is if there are folks interested in supporting the club, contact me.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of York County received a $38,800 Juvenile Accountability Block Grant to set up day and evening centers, as Carriker explained, “places where kids can go instead of getting in trouble.”

Now, the group needs about $15,000 to pay for staff and equipment.

“We have to come up with a minimum match to meet the requirements of this grant,” Carriker said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs is a national organization with local chapters providing after-school programs for children in first through 12th grades to help at-risk and high-risk children “reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.” The three keys of the program for measures of success are academic success, healthy lifestyle and good character and citizenship, Carriker said.

“It’s about building an environment that without them knowing, builds skills to tie them over into adulthood,” Carriker said. “We want to make sure kids stay in school, are excited about school and graduate from school.”

The York County group formed 22 years ago and has four club locations. The new Clover club would be modeled after the Rock Hill Teen Center that opened in 2012, and this year served 250 children in middle and high school.

“We’re preparing them for what comes after high school to get ready for college, jobs and careers, and exploring military,” Carriker said. “Some may want to go straight to the work world, but there are not many jobs that get you a career going straight out of school.”

Carriker said about 15 college visits are planned each year, “which really opens their eyes.”

Dr. Sheila Quinn, Clover School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and administrative services, said this would be the first and only group serving the middle to high school students with an after-school program.

“We’re hoping we can have a safe place for those students to be active and get work done for school,” Quinn said. ‘Boys & Girls Clubs enrichment activities offer consistent homework help, food and it’s an opportunity to keep kids active and in a good place.”

She knows well how Boys & Girls Clubs serves its community. She said her daughter needed AP math tutoring and was able to get help free.

“We’ll have that available and access if needed,” Quinn said.

Karen van Vierssen, executive director of Clover Area Assistance Center, said they hope to be able to help, possibly by providing snacks. Programs like this, she said “make a difference with fewer families coming in in the future.”

“We see the kids in that cycle of poverty and it has to be broken when the kids are young,” she said. “Whatever we can do to help this come to fruition.”

Details are still in the works, however, the location will likely be Blue Eagle Academy. Carriker would like to see the program start after Labor Day with at least 20 teens and two to three part-time staff members.

“We still haven’t signed the agreement but in principle we have everything worked out,” he said.

Parents and students can learn more about the program, Quinn said, during school registration this month.

“Kids without direction are going to make bad choices and that costs society money,” Carriker said. In the words of one of his board members, he said, “Do things before the bad things happen instead of after the bad things happen.”

To find out more about contributing or how to help bring the club to Clover, call Carriker at 803-324-7920.

Catherine Muccigrosso •  803-831-8166

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