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HomeNewsArchivesNot for Profit: Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virgin Islands

Not for Profit: Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virgin Islands

Oct. 5, 2008 — At time when V.I. residents recognize that youth need help to improve their lives, the Boys and Girls Clubs, an organization filling that need, finds its very survival in jeopardy because of a budget crunch.
For more than 30 years, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virgin Islands has provided a safe place with adult supervision for children after school. The affordable fee of $25 makes it a good option for working parents. But the fees, along with $50,000 in funding from the national organization, is not enough to provide for the yearly operating budget for the organization operating facilities on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
"The club's funding was cut from the fiscal year 2008 budget, but Gov. John deJongh has recommended $150,000 for 2009," said Julie Landreneau, executive director of the organization. She doesn't know if there is any money earmarked for the club in the 2009 budget.
"The government is here to assist us," she said. "But it is evident we have to get away from the entitlement and welfare mentality. This is a wakeup call for the board of directors, the units, staff and community.
Landreneau has been the executive director for two months.
"Now is the time to reground and refocus on commitment," she said, adding, "This is a great opportunity to create a grassroots effort and see what we're made up of with community support. This also teaches children about taking responsibility."
Landreneau said she realizes some people don't have a lot of money to give, but they can give of their time and talents.
"We can always use help with cleanup, painting and landscaping," she said. "The basketball court needs resurfacing, and we need a new roof for the Christiansted unit. These are ways to engage parents and the community."
The clubs also take donations of toys, games, puzzles, school and cleaning supplies, she said.
"For some children the Boys and Girls Club is their home away from home," Landreneau said. "Some of the children have been coming to the clubs for 10 years."
Each of the units serves close to 100 children ages 6 to 18, according to Landreneau. Some of them use the services daily. The hours are from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, along with limited Saturday hours. Landreneau's goal is to add Friday and Saturday evenings to the schedule. The children are bused to the facilities from local schools, and some are walkers.
The afternoon starts with the Power Hour, designated for homework and any help the children may need with studies.
The clubs offer various programs on environmental education, personal development and fun things such as basketball and four square, Landreneau said. Passport to Manhood is a program designed for boys to transition to manhood in a positive way, teaching self-respect and the respect of females. For girls the clubs offer Smart Girl, focusing on positive body images and feelings.
Hector Andrade, one of the paid staffers, expressed enthusiasm Friday about a new program the clubs are about to start this week called Drama Matters.
"The program is designed to get kids to break out of their shells and get out of their comfort zone and express themselves," Andrade said. "My goal is to do a play and get sponsors for props and costumes."
Territory-wide, the staff is made up of four full-time and eight part-time employees, along with three to five volunteers.
The mission of Boys and Girls Clubs is to be a safe place for youngsters to learn and a place where youngsters can establish ongoing relationships with caring adults. The clubs offer life-enhancing programs that help the youngsters build character and integrity and be a place where they learn about hope and opportunity.
On Dec. 4 there will be a Holiday Hope benefit in conjunction with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign held at Divi Carina Bay Resort. Admission to the benefit is two unwrapped toys valued at $20 each, or $40 at the door. There will be a silent and live auction with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club. For more information about the benefit, call Alex Johnson at Divi at 773-9700, ext. 148.
There are two club locations on St. Croix: 7 Market Street, Christiansted, and 33 Two Brothers, Frederiksted. The St. Thomas club can be found at 13 Nordsidevej, Fireburn Hill. For more information or to make a donation, call the Boys and Girls Club main office in Christiansted at 778-8990.
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