Boys & Girls Club experiences a rejuvenation |

Boys & Girls Club experiences a rejuvenation

Jill Darby

The Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe is implementing three new programs to enhance member education.

Education Station, Building Bridges and an expanded leadership program will help youngsters get ahead, Boys & Girls Club Program Director Jeremy Brice said.

n Education Station

Made up of three components, Education Station is more than an hour of quiet study time, as was the case with the club’s previous homework program, “Power Hour.”

Education Station is broken up into three categories: homework, tutoring and assistance; computer literacy; and leisure time, which involves educational videos and group reading time.

“The whole program is based on a reward system,” Brice said. “They can earn 10 points in a day per component which equals 30 points a day, max. At the end of every two weeks, there will be a party and rewards for the kids.”

Club members must earn 200 out of 300 points every two weeks in order to attend the Friday afternoon party, which will feature prizes, ice cream, videos and other treats.

“It takes away from being just a normal, everyday homework situation,” Brice said. “It makes it more interesting because there are three different things going on. It adds the computer part into it and technology is our future, so if we start the kids on computers in the club, they’ll be good to go in the future.”

n Building Bridges

Building Bridges is a mentoring program which pairs Boys & Girls Club members with community mentors.

“It’s a program in which we’re providing youth in the community an opportunity to attain a mentor from the community, somebody they can look up to, somebody who can pose as a role model,” Brice said. “It’s for ages 6 through 14.”

Club administration is in the process of seeking out community members interested in being mentors. Anybody who wants to get involved with South Shore’s youth is encouraged to apply to be a mentor. There is a screening process and mentors will be matched with club members who share common interests.

“There are already kids on a waiting list,” Brice said. “We’re trying to get people in the community involved. People can call the club if they want to be a mentor. They have the opportunity to change a kid’s life forever.”

n Leadership program and club growth

Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe received a $13,000 grant from the State of California Department of Social Services to expand its current leadership program.

Brice, who said the club is focused on teaching children leadership skills they can maintain throughout life, said there have been many positive changes in the program over the last three months.

“The program has changed dramatically within the last 90 days,” said Brice, who joined the administration team in June. “I was the last piece of a puzzle that was already composed of Frank Luna, area director and DeAnne Hooper, executive director. We’ve gone through many changes with staff and restructuring our programming. Through that, we’ve gained support from the community. That’s something that was lost in the past. The parents are involved now and excited about our club.”

Brice said increasing the quality of programming and positive media have helped boost club membership.

“Through a lot of communication with the (South Lake Tahoe) recreation center and the (Lake Tahoe Unified) school district, things are looking good,” he said. “I just want to thank the community. I hope they continue to support us because we’re part of the biggest youth organization in the world and we’re continuing to grow and continuing to make it a positive place for kids.”

n Club members speak out

When asked how Boys & Girls Club has affected their lives, club members did not hesitate to respond.

“It definitely has helped me out physically and mentally,” 12-year-old Miles Stewart said. “Physically, they drive you to do your best here. Mentally, Hillary (McDonnell, teacher’s aide) always helps me with my homework and stuff like that and Donna (Kemp, arts and crafts director) helps me with my art. I love to draw. I want to be an animator.”

Stewart said he enjoys coming to the club after school.

“It’s a lot of fun, especially because it’s right after school and school stresses me out sometimes,” he said. “I come here and I can relax and hang out with my friends and play sports. It’s cool.”

Jessica Mendoza, 11, said the her grades have improved since joining the club.

“It keeps me out of watching too much TV, which is a problem because it affects my grades,” Mendoza said. “When I’m at Boys & Girls Club I have to do my homework so my grades go up.”

Twelve-year-old Melody Contreras said she’s seen many changes during her years at the club.

“I’ve been coming here longer than anyone here,” she said. “When I was younger it was more organized, then for awhile it wasn’t really organized at all. Now, it’s been getting a lot better. Jeremy (Brice) has brought a lot of new ideas and Frank (Luna) has been here forever and he’s really polite and he just has a lot of fun with us. I like it a lot more lately.”

For information or to volunteer to be a mentor, call the Boys & Girls Club at (530) 542-0838.

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