Heads they win, tails they win
After a long afternoon of collecting coins from under rocks at a drained pond at Embassy Suites Resort, teens in the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe walked away with 14 buckets worth of change Tuesday.
The money, donated by Embassy Suites annually to the club, will go toward a variety of youth programs including a teen leadership conference 15 club members hope to attend in June.
Since consolidating five satellite programs in September, the club for 6- to 18-year-olds is averaging six new members a week, said interim program director Steve Conway. Roughly 80 young people show up for the program at South Tahoe Middle School on any given day.
“We’re now offering a much broader variety of age-appropriate activities, and we’re attracting a lot more teens,” said Conway. “We’re very inclusive – we charge a flat $10 membership fee per year.”
South Lake Tahoe is home to many expensive recreational activities, said Conway, and the Boys and Girls Club is one of the few affordable options.
In order to keep dues low, the club relies on grants and donations, which Conway says can be a challenge.
“Ideally we would like to not charge anything at all,” he said. “But grants and donations still only cover part of our overhead. We can always use more sponsorship.”
The club is quickly developing a reputation for community service work, said teen program director Frank Luna, which recently included a canned food drive, winter coat drive, tutoring, construction work at the club and plans to adopt a highway.
The biggest challenge the club faces now is to raise enough money to build or purchase space for a permanent clubhouse. Conway says this would expand hours and programs, and enable the club to offer night events for teens.
“The club offers a safe, positive program, and there’s a huge need for that in Tahoe,” said Conway. “A big part of our philosophy is to help young people develop a sense of competence, usefulness, influence and belonging.”
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