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Boys and girls club offering community support through virus crisis

Construction continues on the new building for the Boys and Girls Club of South Lake Tahoe.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — As many in the community have struggled to adjust to the crisis, the Boys and Girls Club of South Lake Tahoe has continued to offer support for those who need it.

The club rents space from Lake Tahoe Unified School District, so when the district had to close their doors, the club lost access to their space.

“We thought it was important to continue service to our members,” said the club’s Executive Director Jude Wood.

The club also lost access to a federal grant because of the district closing but they were able to tap into another grant that allows them to serve food when schools are closed.

“The school district is doing a phenomenal job serving breakfast and lunch,” Wood said. “We wanted to compliment that with hot super.”

BGCLT has been hosting open air drive-thru in their parking lot every night from 5 – 6 p.m. where families can come pick up food.

“We’re painfully aware some of our families don’t have access to full kitchens,” Wood said.

They serve about 100 families a day and Wood said they are starting to see some the same faces everyday, affirming to her that they are making a difference for those people.

“We will continue to serve food until life gets back normal,” Wood said. Adding that even once the stay-at-home is lifted, if the town is still in need and the grant allows them to, they will consider continuing to serve dinners.

In addition to the hot supers, the club was able to host a food drive where they gave away 150 bags of food (mostly perishable). The food they gave away was donated to them from the casinos, Heavenly and local restaurants.

“We are really grateful to the casinos and restaurants,” Wood said. “In a time when their future is uncertain, they are still thinking of the community.”

They are continuing to receive food donations.

In addition to serving food, the club has worked to put together virtual programming for their students. Wood said normally they are trying to get children off their electronics but during the crisis, they are encouraging students to stay connected via the club’s Facebook and YouTube channel.

The staff is sending messages to the kids, such as reminding them to be nice to their siblings and parents.

The club polled their parents, asking what the club can do to support them and the majority of the parents said they need stuff to entertain the kids. So, the club has started hosting live (virtual) art classes. The art supplies for each project are handed out with the supers.

“We’re asking our parents to encourage the kids to engage with our videos,” Wood said. “We want our kids to feel loved and supported.”

Before the crisis hit, BGCLT was in the process of securing funding for construction on their own building. Wood has decided to continue moving forward with that project, knowing the crisis will finish at some point and people who have been economically impacted will need support of the club.

“If we had our own building, we could’ve made the decision to stay open to essential members of the community,” Wood said. “Having out own building would’ve given us autonomy.”

Wood is asking for pledges from board members, and although her household has lost an income source, she too has pledged money to the project.

“Our parents are going to need to go back to work, so we need to push forward to be able to serve the community,” Wood said. “It might take longer now but we feel it’s really important.”

BGCLT was the recipient of the $40,000 “Inspiration Grant,” from the Tahoe Women’s Community Fund, which will also go towards the project.

In addition, Wood has made the decision to keep on the full staff so that when the crisis is over, they can open at full capacity on day one.

The club is asking for financial help, if possible, or to-go boxes for the supers.

To learn more, or to help, visit bgclt.org.


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