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Providing access to nutritious food, basic hygiene products, the necessary tools to do their homework or trusted adult mentors who provide supervision and critical support.

Relationships, Resilience & Reopening: What Kids Need Most Now

What makes a great community? That’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. 
 
COVID-19 has affected nearly everyone in our country, including the people I live and work with in rural Kentucky. I’ve been with the Barren-Glasgow County Boys & Girls Club for more than a third of my life, but the effects of the pandemic on our community are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
 
Among the many challenges facing local families, the most urgent and persistent is hunger.
 
I’ll never forget hearing a knock at my door and opening it to find one of our Club kids. He told me he was hungry, so I asked him what he had for breakfast. He just shook his head. So, I asked him when he had last eaten.

“It was three days ago, Ms. Mallie, but don't tell anybody.”

Even for a veteran like me, that was an eye-opening experience. Our Club got him and his family food right away, but we knew there were more kids just like him who hadn’t yet come knocking. That was the moment I knew we had to find a way to reopen our doors, even amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.
 
Our county is one of the poorest in the state. When support systems like schools and Boys & Girls Clubs close, many kids can no longer access what they need to survive and thrive — whether that’s nutritious food, basic hygiene products, the necessary tools to do their homework or trusted adult mentors who provide supervision and critical support. Our Club partnered with the school systems in our area to serve breakfast, lunch and snacks every day during the three months our Club was closed. We let parents take home laptops and helped them complete unemployment applications. 
 

The Essential Need That Can’t Be Overlooked

What also emerged early on was that when Boys & Girls Clubs are closed, many kids are left without a personal connection to a trusted adult. It was like being cut off from your closest family. 

We all reeled from the loss of the simple things, like a handshake or a high five. When we reopened in June, our kindergarteners got together and decided they all wanted to wear gloves so they could give each other high fives. That was an incredible thing to watch: our littlest members demonstrating the problem-solving skills and accountability we’ve instilled in them. They banded together, used creative thinking and took ownership of the situation. I was so proud. 
 
Reopening our Club was an emotional experience for all of us. When one of our 8-year-old members returned, he said, “I didn't know if I was ever going to get to come back here. I just can't believe I'm back!” They need us, and we need them.
 
Yes, helping kids succeed in school and preparing them for college, careers and life is a top priority, but the Club experience is also much more than that. It’s providing the social and emotional well-being and a safe place for kids to grow up, belong and want to go back into their communities to make them better, together.
 

“When I look at our Club kids, all I see is hope.”

It’s easy to feel frustrated with so much of what’s happening in society right now, but when I look at our Club kids, all I see is hope. The easiest way to ensure a better future is by working with and for the future. And our future is our youth. 

Help Clubs do Whatever it Takes

Every child deserves the chance to exceed beyond the circumstances that surround them. Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America will ensure continued support for kids, families and communities to get through the overwhelming struggles that persist due to COVID-19 and deepening inequities. Together, let’s do whatever it takes for them. 

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