The Boys and Girls Club has always offered beneficial supplementary programming for before and after school. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, they asked themselves how they can help support children during the day who have to learn from home. Over the next month, the Newburgh Boys and Girls Club will be launching a learning center, which will allow children to come to the club during the school day and use laptops and reliable WiFi.
“It’s a service we want to provide to the children and the parents,” said Executive Director Kevin White. “A lot of the time parents have to work during the day and we’ve been hearing how difficult it is to manage their work and the children as well.”
The learning center will be open for anyone to utilize and will be free of charge. Those interested have to register and become a member of the club and then are welcome to use the space during the school day. The service will be open to surrounding areas as well.
Additionally, the Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh is continuing to offer remote programming, like the reintroduced STAR program. The STAR program runs on Fridays and Saturdays and offers different workshops that “keep the kids engaged and involved” like fitness classes, movie nights, special events and more.
White said that they also have speakers who come talk about the community and world events to help maintain a connection to the outside community and continue to educate the youth. While there aren’t as many children who participate in the online programming as there were in-person, White said they are continuing to keep the members engaged as best as they can.
“We’ve had good participation,” said White. “It’s difficult to figure out what connects to young people and what is interesting and engaging for them. We think we’ve done a good job to keep them engaged. They can tune in and tune out based on what their interests are.”
Similar to the learning center, they hope to return the STAR program to in person by next month. Currently the Performing Arts Academy is open in person and there are over 100 students still enrolled in music, dance and arts classes.
At the same time of navigating the virtual and hybrid world, the Newburgh Boys and Girls club continues to construct and renovate the former Columbus Trust Bank building for their Center for Arts & Education, which will provide arts and education services and serve as a performance venue for more than 3,000 underserved individuals annually.
They are preparing now for a launch of a public campaign to raise additional funds for this building. They have raised $4 million so far and need $2 million more. The campaign, which will be done locally and nationally, named Change 4 a Five, asks the public to donate their “comfort five,” whether that be $5, $50, $500 or $5,000.
“We once had a young person who was in college and he said he wanted to make a donation,” said White about where the campaign name came from. “I asked him how much he could give and he said a dollar. With a dollar, we can buy two books for our children in our literacy program. He pulled out his pocket and asked do you have change for a five.”
The money raised will be used for construction, equipment, furnishings, technology, floors and mirrors for the dance studio. Construction has already begun and they are expecting it to be complete by December 2021.
“People in the arts understand how important the arts are and how children need to have access for the arts,” said White. “We’re making a special appeal to those in the arts community for their support.”
In addition to the Center for the Arts, they are building a k through three literacy center in the same facility.