Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boys and Girls Club of Easton Calls On Other Youth Groups to Work Together and Share Resources

Director Dean Young in the gym that is getting refurbished at expanded Boys and Girls Club in Neston Heights on Easton's South Side. The gym, as well as the rest of the facility, will be available to kids from all over the city, including Boys and Girls Club Teen Center members from the West Ward.

Posted by: Noël Jones

In his article for the Express-Times, Colin McEvoys reports that the Boys and Girls Club of Easton will  be receiving a grant from the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, after concerns that the organization would not be getting funding at all, because of rumors that had been circulating among city officials and the nonprofit community that the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center would soon be moving back to the organization's newly expanded center on the South Side. Because of funding cuts, the grant will be smaller this year--only $12,000--as compared to $20,000 the year before. But Director Dean Young understands that these are challenging times in terms of funding, and is glad to have the help of even a reduced grant.

"Bridges should keep bring us together, not keep us apart. I have no idea how these rumors started, or why they took hold, but the Boys and Girls Club of Easton has never said that we intended to leave the
West Ward--we have always intended to expand our services...we currently serve 177 kids, 45 of which are from the West Ward."

Young goes on to explain that the building's fire code at the Teen Center permits only 188 people, and with the teachers and mentors on hand, they are at capacity and turning kids away. The reopening of the South Side facility will enable the organization to reach even more of Easton's youth with positive programming, including sports, the arts, tutoring, mentoring, and college campus tours.

At the last steering committee meeting for the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, no one seemed to be able to pinpoint exactly where the rumors of the Boys and Girls Club move had originated, but in an arena where many nonprofit organizations apply to compete for grant funding for youth programs, things can sometimes get dicey. This has unfortunately bred some territorial divisions in the nonprofit community over the years. In McEvoy's article, the steering committee suggested more collaboration between organizations to save costs and avoid duplication of services, while the mayor expressed doubts based on past experience.

Young was not at the last steering committee meeting, but reading the statement in the article puzzled him. "The Boys and Girls Club has been attempting to collaborate with other organizations for years--to share facilities and cut costs for everyone--but despite our invitations, many local organizations have not taken us up on it...we always assumed that they did not feel they were ready to contribute to the cost of the facilities yet, but our door remains open."

The first attempt to collaborate with other agencies was at Shaull Junior High School on the South Side, where Young went to junior high himself. The second attempt to get other agencies to join efforts and share brick and mortar costs was the Dutchtown/Gallows Hill Neighborhood Center building on Northampton Street. The third attempt to create a joint community center with other local agencies was the former Café Aaron, which is now the Salvation Army building on Northampton Street. Now Young is hoping, with the encouragement of the mayor and the steering committee, and the fourth time will be the charm.

The newly expanded Boys and Girls Club building sits on Easton's South Side in the newly constructed, Neston Heights neighborhood, which was formerly Delaware Terrace, before it was torn down as part of the HOPE VI housing project. It is a shiny new facility with multipurpose rooms and offices, a full kitchen where cooking classes will be taught, a game room, a workout room, and a refurbished gymnasium. The design allows lots of natural light inside and includes landscaped lawn areas outside. Young hopes to share this new facility with other community youth groups who are interested in collaboration and sharing expenses.

Below is the official invitation issued last week by the Boys and Girls Club of Easton--hopefully, this time the idea will take, and our various youth organizations can come together to save brick and mortar costs while expanding youth programming in our area during these challenging financial times:

The Easton Teen Center a.k.a. THE CLUB!, a unit of Boys & Girls Club of Easton, remains open and serving youth to its full capacity during the Summer months.  There are 177 local youth registered and attending the Future Stars Summer Camp, of which 45 youth are confirmed West Ward residents.  Camp runs for 10 weeks, every weekday, 9am to 5pm, until the big celebration on August 26th, ‘Fantastic Friday’ the End of Summer extravaganza.  From July 1st 2010 to June 30th 2011 the Club served 192 youth who were West Ward residents.
The Club, located at 1101 Northampton Street, at the heart of Easton’s West Ward, has been operational for 6 years, providing year-round, after-school and summer activities in a previously underserved community.  The Teen Center came about from a priority goal in the Boys & Girls Club of Easton’s Strategic Plan, and its nurturing and development remains a priority.  The opening of the Club was made possible through an initial joint grant award of $45,500 from United Wayof the Greater Lehigh Valley and Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, and these organizations continued to provide financial support over the last 6 years.  Two Rivers Health & Wellness Foundation also has provided outstanding support and awarded significant grants each year.  The Club is grateful for the in-kind support of its magnificent troupe of volunteers, especially from Crayola and Lafayette College, who provide caring, trained mentors and tutors for a wide array of youth programs. 
Current Program Highlights at The Easton Teen Center
In addition to the regular Summer Camp programs there are special events, trips and activities, all taking place throughout the summer, and here are some of the highlights:
-          a day with the Horses at Saddle Valley Farm!
-          10 College/Career Tours & Campus Visits
-          Old Navy Job Shadowing
-          Yoga & Meditation, courtesy of the Shanthi Project
-          Drill & Step teams
-          Poetry Snaps creative arts program
Some of our many partner agencies include: Center for Humanistic Change, Girl Scouts Lehigh Valley, A Place 4 Us, First Tee Lehigh Valley Jr. Golf Program, Private Industry Council, NC Juvenile Probation, AARP, IllStyle dance company, Lafayette College & the Williams Center for the Arts, Easton Area School District, Cornerstone Church, Clay Church North, Kids in Motion Camp, Ron Shaffer - Motivational Speaker, Old Navy, TD Bank, Trendz Beauty Academy, Saddle Valley Farm, Shanthi Project, West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Two Rivers Health & Wellness Foundation, Easton Fire Department, City of Easton Police Department, Housing Authority of the City of Easton. 
The Club continues to work on new and expanded youth programs with new partner agencies - this helps keep our youth engaged and gives them a diverse range of activities and opportunities in which they can learn and grow. 
I'd like to extend an invitation to all agencies, organizations and individuals who are interested in future partnerships with the Club to contact me directly.  The Club is poised to return to the refurbished Clubhouse on Easton's South Side, at 210 Jones-Houston Way.  I encourage any agency looking for collaboration and space for youth programs and activities to contact me about sharing resources to better serve those youth who need us the most.  The Club will soon be hosting an open house at the South Side facility.  Also, the Club welcomes volunteers interested in mentoring, tutoring, and helping out with the Club's 5 core programs:  Education & Career Development,  Sports, Fitness & Recreation,  The Arts,  Character & Leadership Development,  and Health & Life Skills.
Any potential partners with questions or comments please call me on my cell phone: (484) 239-2075 or email stars@fast.net
Thank you.
G. Dean Young, Executive Director
Boys & Girls Club of Easton - GREAT Futures Start Here!P.O. Box 741, Easton,  PA 18044-0741
Office Phone: 610 253 5846
Fax: 610 253 6041


Neighbors Of Eastpn said...

Over ten years ago all seven Agencies in Easton were known as the Magnificent 7.
All of the Executive Directors would meet usually at the 3rd St Alliance where we discussed pulling resources together and how we could work together to avoid duplication of services. The Teen Center was a dream back then,but with collaboration and focusing on youth it became a reality. That year we all received the United Way Executive Leadership Award. We made United Way history due to the fact that their had never been more than 1 award given out.The key to the success of this effort was collaboration. Kudos to Dean Young and the wonderful staff he has and the youth who have come up with this strategy.Now is the time to rally behind the effort and show that we really do care about what our youth has to say. COLLABORATION. Good Luck and out of the mouth of babes.comes this words of wisdom.

noel jones said...

thanks for posting, but please use a moniker other than "Neighbors of Easton" so readers are not confused and think that it's me commenting--thanks!

how long ago was the Magnificent 7 meeting? I wonder what happened...?