The Boys and Girls Club of Chehalis helps kids reach their full potential. Their programs and curriculum focus on academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship. The Club is an ideal place for some of the 11.3 million kids who would be unsupervised every day after school.
The Club offers homework help for all ages. With staff tutoring, students have the support they need to succeed at school. Volunteers talk to teens about career options and there’s also help with scholarship and job applications.
To help kids understand healthy lifestyles, the Club partners with local organizations like Twin City Union Football Club, who provides soccer camps. Thorbeckes offers yoga classes and access to their TAP program. Sports can teach kids good character and citizenship. “We try to have those teaching moments in all programs,” says Executive Director Lauren Day.
Club staff implement cooking and nutrition programs from the Boys and Girls Club of America. Their programs also focus on positive actions. Kids are encouraged to journal feelings and participate in group discussions. The “Member of the Month” is chosen for demonstrating good character and awarded a prize package from Shankz Blacklight Mini Golf.
The Club served 275 kids from kindergarten to 12th grade last year, seeing approximately 115 kids every day after school. Summer camps are also popular, providing engaging, educational fun for 75 kids per day.
Chehalis kids have easy access, with buses from the city’s schools. However, the Club is open to all Lewis County kids. ”Club is not a daycare,” says Day. “Rather we are a youth development organization. Kids can attend as frequently or infrequently as they need during their annual membership. However, we know that the more frequently a child utilizes Club, the better their experience and outcomes are.”
The annual fee is $25 with a monthly cost of just $35. Teens pay only $25 a year. Only ten percent of the club’s operating costs are funded by membership fees, with the majority of funds coming from community support.
Local businesses can support kids through the Club’s corporate sponsorship program. Their annual donations help cover operational costs. Many local individuals give monthly donations while community organizations provide grants, sponsor events and offer in-kind donations.
Coming up on August 16 is Pacific Mobile Structures 10th annual charity golf tournament which benefits the Chehalis Club. This past spring, the Club’s yearly breakfast – called The Most Important Meal of the Year – saw 200 attendees and raised close to $50,000. A new Dueling Pianos event called “Harmony for Hope” is in the works for this fall.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chehalis sponsors events and the Club’s snack program. “They are a great community partner and are always there,” says Day. “If there is anything I need, I feel like I can reach out to them, as well as a lot of other organizations in this community. We rely on them for support.”
Holiday Inn Express General Manager Todd Chaput knows the Club’s value to our community. “Safe and affordable afterschool care is important to any community and we are lucky to have Boys and Girls Club to fill that role,” he says. “Often, parents are still at work when school lets out. This provides a safe place for kids to go that is fun yet provides learning opportunities, leadership and mentoring. Several members of the Holiday Inn Express team use the after school programs provided by the Boys and Girls Club, including myself, and we look for ways we can support the valuable service they provide.”
Volunteers also play an integral role in the success of the Club. “One of the main goals of the Boys and Girls Club is to offer every kid trusting support from an adult mentor,” says Day. “Volunteers let us reach more kids and help us be able to do more fun and hands-on activities.”
What sets the Boys and Girls Club apart from other youth organizations is their focus on staff and providing high-quality, data-driven training. This is “so they can be well-equipped to safely guide the kids and form those friendships with them,” Day says. “They learn to be a trusted adult, especially for those kids who might not have that elsewhere.”
The Club’s impact on families is immense. There aren’t many other options for school-age kids after school, and daycares are often costly. “This offers a family relief, both financially and knowing where their kids are with supervision,” says Day.
The Club allowed one single mom of three to get her degree at Centralia College and obtain a better job. “She knew where her kids were and she could afford it,” says Day. “We stay open until 7:00 p.m. so she was able to work and go to school knowing her kids were in a good place and having fun safely.”
Day thanks our local community for making the Club possible. “We always say it takes a village to raise a child and we have really come together to be that village for families by providing this club to them,” she says. “It allows families to have more financial security and peace of mind knowing their children are in a great place when they can’t be with them. We are only here because of community support and will continue to be here because of their continued support.”