Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton growing to help kids

The Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton (BGCH) is growing and making an effort to create more partnerships in the community that will benefit the many kids living in poverty that the organization serves.

The agency, which has two locations in Hamilton, one on East Avenue and one on Grand Boulevard, has been ramping up its efforts to partner with other organizations in the area to create programming that will benefit the youth that it serves, according to Executive Director Karen Miller, who has been at the helm of the non-profit since 1985.

BGCH’s goal is to help kids living in poverty attending Hamilton City Schools reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. From literacy to arts programming, Miller sees several possibilities to help kids.

“I think part of it is identifying unmet needs,” she said. “We currently are transporting from several elementary schools in the Hamilton community. Transportation is a huge issue for children that live in poverty. We are now serving Highland, Bridgeport, Fairwood, Riverview and Crawford Woods schools.”

The Fitton Center along with Big Brothers and Big Sisters have joined forces to help BGCH.

“Currently, we are undertaking a partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. It was an opportunity to access federal funding and we’ve partnered together and we will have 10 matches,” Miller said. “These are young people that will benefit from the Boys and Girls Club small group programming.”

The Fitton Center partnership allows kids to participate in voice lessons and do mosaic art — which is the broken glass pieces. Also, this summer 20 kids will have a chance to be involved in drama as the Fitton opens its stage for them.

The Miami Valley Ballet Theater is pitching in and will host BGCH kids this summer for a 13-week ballet class.

All of this comes at a time when many may not even remember what the BGCH does.

“We are an after-school and summer youth development organization,” Miller explained. “Our whole goal is to help children in the Hamilton City Schools, so that more children living in poverty are reading on grade level. We also have physical education, safety and bullying classes that help children with self-esteem.”

She added that the organization also reaches out to help any agency or individual that wants to offer services to help the underserved youth in the community find ways to connect.

“I believe that the services we provide have never been more in need than they are right now,” Miller said. “We are an organization that wants to build a brighter future for the children who live in poverty in our community.”

To be part of the BGCH, a membership application is required and the cost is 25 cents per day. If there is a fiscal challenge, then the agency will work out a scholarship opportunity that will allow kids to join.

Making a Difference

Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s research shows that young people who attend a Club regularly tend to do better than their peers nationally:

68 percent of Club 12th graders volunteer at least once per month, compared with 39 percent of 12th graders nationally.

90 percent of Club ninth graders report abstaining from drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with 77 percent of ninth graders nationally.

31 percent of Club girls ages 12 to 15 are physically active every day, compared with 23 percent of girls in the same age range nationally.

A at the National Survey on Drug Use and Health data suggests that low-income, regularly attending Club members ages 12 to 17 outperform their peers nationally on school grades. About three-quarters of these Club members report earning mostly As and Bs in school, compared with 67 percent of youth nationally

Source: National Youth Outcomes Report.

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