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June 16, 2011

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County are Making a Difference

by PBUnitedWay

Amidst the current social and economic stresses, many youth yearn for a safe place to call their own – a place where they can learn and grow as individuals, and where they feel cared for. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County offers that and much more! The following story illustrates how a young lady’s experiences through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County has not only enriched her life as a child, but how it will continue to do so throughout adulthood.

The Boys & Girls Club has made the biggest differences in my life. To a young girl who was brought up with one parent and one little brother, it was hard to talk to someone about any of my problems. Going to the Boys & Girls Club changed that. The Club not only allowed me to meet new people, I discovered my gift, or as my Mom says, ‘what you are called to do.

‘The art room gave me many things to do like painting, drawing and making new things. The computer room is where I learned how to type. The health room gave me everything 1 needed to know about our bodies. The game room allowed us to have fun and be safe at the same time. The teen room gave me the opportunity to talk about things 1 didn’t feel comfortable talking to my Mom about. The library allowed me to do my homework and get help at any time. When I turned 13, the Club started the girl scouts, girl power and one thing that made the biggest difference in my life, the dance team. Every child dances in the mirror at home. But when the Club created this dance group, it meant so much more to me. Through the dance group I found my career. I will open a dance studio one day.

Most after school programs are just around to make some money. The Club is so much more than that. The kids mean something to the staff. The kids’ future means something to the staff. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have the Club to run to after school.

When I turned 17, I thought I was too old to attend the Club. That’s when I got my first job. Working at the Club four hours a day, I could stay the whole day, keep out of trouble, have a job, and go on all of the field trips.Now I am a member of the Suncoast Marching Band and captain of the auxiliary section. Being a leader of the band is a lot of responsibility but I learned how to be one at the Club.

When asked, ‘What has the Boys & Girls Club done for me?’ I say ‘what hasn’t it done!’ Being a girl with not much in life, I was trying to make good grades and get into college. The Club means so much to a young lady like me. The Club supplies me with the father I never had, all those cousins I never met, that little sister whose hair I can do, and that older brother to make sure I’m always doing good. What does the Club mean to me? It means a family, a teacher, a playhouse, a place to call home, an inspiration, a career finder, a safe environment, and a place that made me what I am today. The Boys & Girls Club gave me the courage to be me.

Every day, the Clubs provide a number of programs and activities designed to prepare young people for real-world success.   By focusing on academics, health and fitness, leadership and service, the children served will be better prepared to graduate high school and thrive as adults.   The Town of Palm Beach United Way believes that education is the cornerstone of individual and community success.  It is essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage.   That is why we have supported the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County since 1988 with grants in excess of $2 million dollars.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and other Town of Palm Beach United Way member agencies, visit www.palmbeachunitedway.org.

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