People invest in programs that work. That is not my opinion. That is a statement that reflects years of donations to nonprofits not only here in Kenosha, but nationwide. People want to know that their money is going to be used effectively and efficiently. The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha is a great example of that.
These past couple of years we have seen the club go through some major changes. We doubled the square footage available for programming when we opened the doors to our new community center a year ago. We also have nearly doubled the number of young lives we are touching with our “Programs That Work.” We anticipated that it would take about five years to double our membership. Instead, it has happened in a little over one.
This summer the club is offering a variety of programs and the daily attendance is reaching near capacity. Our baseball, softball and t-ball leagues are giving nearly 1000 Kenosha youngsters a chance to play with their classmates and friends.
In addition to the baseball programs, our athletics department has featured a number of camps and classes at the Joseph and Shirley Madrigrano Sports Complex this summer. These include lacrosse, soccer and basketball. We have golf classes at muni and cheerleading and football classes at Rikli Park. Community demand drives what we offer and the program structure is always geared toward both education and recreation. In short, our athletic programs are structured in a way that the participants have fun while learning specific skills.
The summer drop-in programs at the Natalie and Dennis Troha Youth Center are going strong as well. We have over 200 children at the club every day. They are participating in the many programs local people expect from the “Programs That Work” at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. These include arts and crafts by professional instructors as well as dancing and singing on the Joseph and Kathy Madrigrano Performing Arts Stage.
Our members have enjoyed field trips to the Lincoln Park and Racine zoos, a Brewers game (thanks to the Kenosha Police Department Crime Prevention Unit) and to pick strawberries at a strawberry farm. Members go to the farmers market weekly to pick up produce for the club’s healthy eating programs.
The Old Navy store at Prime Outlets hosted our members at “Camp Old Navy”, where club members were trained in customer service techniques and had a fashion show featuring Old Navy fashions.
The best endorsements of our “Programs That Work” come from the members themselves. Like the high school student who said “I am preparing to go to college and the Boys & Girls Club staff is a vital part of this process. It feels as if they are going with me and that is why I am so confident.”
Or the member who said “Before I came to the club I was hanging outside and just being around the wrong people. I wasn’t doing anything positive until I started coming to the club.”
Another member said “As an African-American young lady I can honestly say the Boys & Girls Club has helped me through this process called life. I am involved in my community with volunteer work and community service. I stay out of trouble and I’m heavily involved in extracurricular activities at school. I am now an athlete and an accomplished flutist.”
Finally, a member who benefited from our programs said “The Boys & Girls Club has been one of the biggest support systems in my life. It doesn’t matter what I’m going through, what kind of help I need. I have always been able to go to the Boys & Girls Club for help.”
The Boys & Girls Club movement nationwide has provided millions of young Americans with opportunities to learn and grow and have fun. Right here in Kenosha, we have one of the biggest and best clubs in the country. If you have a youngster who would benefit from the many programs offered at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, I encourage you to call the center at 654-6200 and get more information on how your child can be involved. Mine have been. I can say from firsthand experience that the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha truly does offer “Programs That Work.”