Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Boys and Girls Club

By Joe Birch - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Children who live in the many apartment complexes along Sycamore View between I-40 and Bartlett now have a place they want to go after school.  It's the newest local Boys and Girls Club, but unlike any other in Memphis, this one is located inside a church.

While making new friends, members of the city's newest Boys and Girls Club always can count on director Gladys Robinson to bring her A-game.

"You can tell if the kids enjoy it by the way they stay, because if they get up and leave, then you know we're not doing our job," Robinson said. "But if they stay and we have to call people to come and get them at 8 o'clock, they're enjoying the program."

Participants make three pointers, along with arts and crafts.  Fifty to sixty children attend the Sycamore View Church of Christ each day..

"It's been a real blessing," youth pastor Jim Hinkle said. "We're looking for opportunities to become entrenched in the neighborhood and in lives, and the Boys and Girls Club has provided that."

The Boys and Girls Club has been located in the Sycamore View Church of Christ for five months now, providing the Club with an automatic base of volunteers.

"They come in and assist with homework time," Robinson said. "They help fix snacks for us. Then, every Wednesday, the church prepares a dinner for our kids."
Vincent Borello, Boys and Girls Clubs Memphis CEO, says the church provided the space, utilities and janitorial service.

"Where many non-profits in this economy have seen themselves shrinking, we grew," he said. "We opened this club."

The Boys and Girls Club provides the programming with full and part time staff and the national brand that attracts kids:

"It is a third of the cost of what it costs us to run a full service club house that we own," Borello said.

The model of a church or school with an existing gym, game room, and classrooms, is how the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis plans to grow.

Top target areas for new clubs include Whitehaven, Frayser and Raleigh.

Preliminary talks are underway with Memphis City and Shelby County Schools to explore placing Boys and Girls Clubs on select campuses.

To learn more, click here.

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