For the boys and the girls
A dozen or so volunteers teamed up with school officials, community leaders and masses of happy squealing children to hold the first of many fundraisers for the upcoming Boys & Girls Club of Carbon County. The event was held on Friday, Feb. 26 at Mont Harmon Junior High School, where the club will be housed, and - by all indications - it was a smashing success.
"I was a little nervous about the attendance tonight," said Megan Archibeque, who spearheaded the effort to organize a local chapter and now sits on the board of directors. "It started a little slow but then people began really coming in. It's great."
It was a carnival atmosphere with games, food, prizes, dance recital, band music, contests and club registration forms available for those parents with junior high school-age children. Help was also given by several Mont Harmon students, as well as performances by the Mont Harmon and Helper junior high cheerleaders.
The Boys and Girls Club Movement began in the United States during the Civil War. Its inception is traced to Hartford, Conn. with the formation of the Dashaway Club to serve needy boys in the community.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America had its beginnings in 1860 when several women, believing that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative, organized the first club. A cause was born. The idea spread to other areas of the country and more clubs were formed. The first club to use "Boys Club" in its official title was the Boys Club of New York in 1876. At this time, the clubs served only boys.
In 1906, the existing 50 clubs joined together to form a national organization known as the Boys Club of America. The Federated Boys Clubs in Boston was formed with 53 member organizations.
Later, in response to a growing need, however, the Boys Clubs began to also serve girls. In 1990, the national organization officially changed its name to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Today there are over 4,000 clubs in the United States serving more than 4 million members. There are similar organizations in Germany, Australia, Canada, and many other countries around the world.
A Boys & Girls Club "latch key" kid in her youth, Archibeque was motivate to get the ball rolling locally because she saw a need in the community for children of working and/or single parents to have a place to go after school was out. Her own childhood experiences led her to form a steering committee almost two years ago, pushing for civic assistance and involvement. The work was difficult, but her bubbly, infectious smile and personality were no hindrance to the task.
"Being a member had a positive influence on me and having a positive attitude really helps when trying to get the community to rally around this kind of concept," the Missouri-born Price resident said. "But we have spoken to so many people, so many schools. I am really excited about the future of this club. Judging from the response that I have had this is going to be a very well-attended club."
And that may not be the half of it. The plan for initial membership is only for junior high pupils (seventh through ninth grades). Once the organization gets off the ground and moves into it's own facility, then children six and up may be allowed to apply for membership.
"Right now we're focusing on the middle school kids because they are the ones who really need a place to go after school," said board member Andy Urbanik, a member of the East Carbon City Council and a parent whose kids attended clubs in Oregon. "The elementary children have Pro Care right but the junior high students have nowhere to go. We do not want them to fall through the cracks. We also want to start small - not overextend ourselves. We will have plenty of time and room to grow here."
Working with the Carbon School District, the committee was first offered an unused building, but settled on Mont Harmon - temporarily - because of the strong partnership with that school's administration, especially principal Kerry Jensen. The club will be able to take advantage of some of Mont Harmon's facilities such as the library, gymnasium and several vacant classrooms.
"This school is a perfect fit," Urbanik said. "We have lots of support here and everyone seems to be really excited about the project." He added that a small staff will be hired to supervise the members, as well as support from the College of Eastern Utah's VISTA program (think AmeriCorp, or sort of a domestic Peace Corps).
"Our goal, of course, is to one day have our own facility," he added. "And I think we will, too. We have tremendous community and regional club support. When parents see that the Boys & Girls Club teaches values and guides youth to positive results, I believe they will want to become part of it. It's a wonderful organization and I am excited to be a part of it."
For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Carbon County, call 637-5032, ext. 433.