Part of that “rebirth” is giving outreach a new face — that of Haley Reynolds, the 2008 Dairy Festival Queen who recently graduated from Oklahoma University, where she majored in communications and minored in nonprofit organizational studies. She will serve as program development coordinator
“The community has done so much for me, it’s my turn to give back to the community,” Reynolds said. “I was raised here. This is really my first job. I did an internship with Jackie Thornton at the Health Care Foundation.”
After her internship, Reynolds’ focus changed from communications, her major.
“After my internship, I decided nonprofit is what I want to do,” Reynolds said. “I get no pleasure receiving a pay check. I get pleasure helping people. Near and dear to my heart is helping others. I want to reverse it, to be the one to make a difference in a young life.”
In addition to the skills earned during her training and honed during her internship, Reynolds said she will also draw from her time serving the community as Dairy Festival Queen, through Alpha Chi Omega sorority’s philanthropic work in areas such as Norman, Okla., and Oklahoma City, and a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about her hometown community in her new position as program development coordinator.
After graduating, Reynolds was contacted by BGC re-founding board members Barb Julian and Patsy Johnson to be the face of the club as its program development coordinator. BGC Executive Director Ayana Pryor explained the BGC was started in 1996 with grant funds awarded to the school system. Eventually, the funding cycle ended and so did the school’s partnership under the school district, leaving it on its own for funding. That was a few years ago. Julian and Johnson were among the group of individuals to stay on through that transition and afterward.
“Ayana is wonderful with the kids. I’m here to help her do her job better, so she can focus on the kids and not have the stress of fund-raising. She can focus on programming, making it safe and better. We want to refresh the Boys & Girls Club as a whole — start over. This is our rebirth year. I encourage others in the community to get involved,” Reynolds said.
“This is our rebirth year. I will focus on kids and Haley will be able to get the word about about the BGC ... let our donors know more about what’s going on, let them know where their money is going and what we’re doing,” Pryor said. “We are one of the best kept secrets in town. We’re open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer. Kids join for a $75 annual fee made in three payments over the school year. There’s no reason the youth shouldn’t pack the doors.”
“I’ll help with the image. A lot of hardworking people were involved in Boys & Girls Club [of America]. Jennifer Lopez, Denzel Washington, Mario Lopez, Colin Powell — Big names thank a Boys and Girls Club for their success, that they were allowed to grow up in a family at the club. That’s what we are — staff, board and volunteers to kids,” said Pryor.
Students are bused during the school year from school to the BGC, where they start working on their homework. Tutoring is available for those who need it. Students then can participate in a number of programs. At one time, BGC was able to stay open until 7 p.m., but had to cut back due to limited finances.
Program officials, in the future, hope to extend hours and services, including providing transportation from the club home, and reach more area youths. But, that will largely depend on funding availability, and donations of time and services from the community. Reynolds will be tackling those items through outreach efforts.
BGC recently held its annual golf tournament fundraiser, and is looking to bring back its annual fundraising dinner.
“We had to sit out the dinner the last two years. We used to do one each semester. We have less than 10 day cares in town and most close at 5 or shortly thereafter. That’s good, if parents get off by 5. Kids ages 9 to 13, parents often think are old enough to stay home until they get there. We had three home fires where kids were left home. They say from four to seven is when most juvenile criminal mischief takes place,” Pryor said.
“We need community help for the youth of our community. Boys and Girls Club is for the youth of our community. There is no other organization in our community like it. We want to reach children of every religion, race and demographic,” she added.
The club currently serves 30 to 40 kids during the summer and 60 during the school year. Although the program is for kindergarten-aged students and up, those most served by the program are third through sixth graders, and typically more boys than girls of late. They even offer college preparatory assistance, taking kids for college visits, helping to fill out financial aid forms. Most seniors aren’t taking advantage of this availability until about three months until they are due — crunch time.
“We are working on a more varied program that draws in more girls too,” Pryor noted.
The greatest needs at the club are for tutors, mentor counselors, people willing to share their crafts and lend their skills and knowledge to improve the building or teach youth.
BGC organization offers numerous programs, they just need someone willing to volunteer the time to teach them. In fact, at least 30 program manual notebooks can be obtained from BGC-America for various interests. Civic groups and community organizations are welcome to take on some of these programs, lending their expertise and time.
For instance, Omni Eagles program, composed of different home-schooled youth as part of Good News Club in Hopkins and Hunt counties helped facilitate a robotics program.
Every Thursday, First Baptist Church Children’s Minister Brit Fisher visits the club for a character building program, which has an emphasis with biblical belief — youth participants must get signed permission.
Each volunteer is screened just as employees are, using a background check.
The club will be closed to youths the week of Aug. 19-23, to allow volunteers and staff to work on the facility. Parents can register their students for the fall semester for a $25 membership fee Aug. 19-30, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Parents are asked to use the Lundy Street entrance Aug. 19-23.
“We are thankful to have this building, but it is an older building and requires a lot of upkeep,” Reynolds noted. “We could use volunteers.”
“It’d be great if we have any master electricians or plumbers or people of those skill sets who could, if nothing else, donate time that week to tell us what needs to be done,” said Pryor, adding that anyone willing to donate time to help clean and work that week is welcome too.
“This year, we’re going to look like we never have, inside and out. We invite people to stop by and volunteer and take pleasure in seeing the difference they are making,” Reynolds said.
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