I have been associated with the Boys and Girls Club of Kalamazoo for about 10 years and during that period, I have been impressed and amazed by their impact in our community.
The Club has three locations, all in very depressed neighborhoods that serve at-risk kids, primarily those of African American and Latino background.
The Club serves close to 220 kids per day at the 3 locations, and their impact and focus is on academic success, healthy lifestyles, and the development of character and leadership values. They also emphasize community service for their teen members.
I have personally spoken to a number of youth who emphatically state the club has saved their life, and kept them from a life of drugs, teen pregnancy, school dropouts, and gang violence.
This is not a small feat, as in our area, we have 30% of kids who do not even graduate from high school. The Club empowers all kids to seek higher ground and not only graduate high school but go further- on to college.
This sums up The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo:
After school youth development at its best (3:30 PM-8:00 PM including a hot meal) in a safe harbor, as opposed to a local neighborhood environment where many of the kids only have one parent or custodian at home and rarely have a full stomach, heat or are spared from abuse and violence.