May 7, 2009 The private and public sectors of the community are answering the cry for help from the Boys & Girls Club to help it enrich lives of children on St. Croix.
The Frederiksted club building is getting fresh coats of tangerine, lemon and lime colored paint rolled on to the walls by six boys from the Department of Human Services Youth Rehabilitation Center. The boys smiled Thursday as they diligently worked to help prepare the facility for other youth from the community.
Julie Landreneau, director of the Boys & Girls Club, said it is a very positive thing for the boys from YRC to be helping to get the club ready.
They are volunteers, and not professional painters, but they are doing a very fine job, said Austin Dilbeck, an adult volunteer directing the boys.
Landreneau said the institution is shooting for June 15th to open the facility for summer camp. The Club in Christiansted opened in April.
Landreneau said she is waiting on the delivery of a gym set for the playground area. Spartan Concrete donated materials and labor for a new side walk, which is beneficial since the front yard is all dirt. The club has applied for a Community Development Block Grant for landscaping of the yard and to address tree roots sticking out of the ground. The organization is in negotiation with Frederiksted Community Boating for a two-week sailing program for 14 children with funding help from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission. GEC Contractors have donated all electrical work, which includes lighting, ceiling fans, sockets and exit signs.
The camp will have limited hours Monday through Friday for an eight-week period offering arts, recreation, sports, special mentoring programs and fun activities, said Landreneau.
The club had difficulties finding a way to transport children to those fun activities and to explore St. Croix.
On Thursday the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce and the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association filled the need for transportation with the donation of two vans.
The vans give the opportunity to open the children's' eyes and see the island and the new and exciting activities that are available on the island, said Omer ErSelcuk, president of the chamber.
The two organizations generated funds for the vans through the Holiday Hope Benefit fundraiser.
According to ErSelcuk, the benefit took in $60,000 in 2007 and 2008 through silent auctions, live auctions and donations. A significant portion of the funds were from an auction of a lunch with Gov. John P. deJongh Jr.
Lisa Hamilton, executive director of the Hotel and Tourism Association, said the organizations were able to purchase two $16,500, 2009 Ford XLT Super Duty 15 passenger vans, insurance and gas for the year.
The end-of-the-day programs at the Boys & Girls Club are important, providing a solid network where kids can come for after-school activities, said Hamilton.
Keys to one of the vans were handed over to Landreneau by key members of the organizations.
Having transportation expands programs, Landreneau said. Transportation is an expensive part of our budget. She added they were grateful and honored to be recipients of the Holiday Hope benefit.
Now we can take them to the beach, hiking, playgrounds, picnics, the rain forest and community service projects, says Landreneau.
The Boys & Girls Club will hold its annual fundraising campaign and block party May 30.
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