Local Boys & Girls Club leader earns first Ohio ambassador appointment

For the first time, a local Boys & Girls Club official from the West Chester and Liberty township area is the top ambassador representing all Ohio clubs.

Dale Kozma, president of the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty, was recently appointed as the State of Ohio Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Club of America.

The appointment will allow the local club, which is located in Olde West Chester, to benefit from accessing more resources and “best practices” of the national club network that numbers 4,438 sites serving more than 4.6 million young people.

“We can leverage and collaborate, and it benefits us in funding and programming opportunities,” she said.

Despite being forced to close from March to June due to the coronavirus, the after-school club was seeing a 40 percent jump in its membership and was averaging more than 200 kids daily before the state-ordered shutdown. It is one of 66 clubs in Ohio.

The $6.9 million, 30,000-square-foot club, which opened in 2018, has since operated during the summer at a reduced capacity of 150 kids but will likely expand that number if the rate of local coronavirus infections begin to wane if local health officials approve.

“We are very committed to a safe and clean environment at our club. We learned a lot while operating during the summer. All our students and staff wear masks and we are very committed to daily wellness checks, including temperature checks as the kids arrive from school,” she said.

Most of the club’s members – about 90 percent – are Lakota School students as the district has provided busing for many students to the club after school.

Given the shuttering of all Ohio K-12 schools since March, making up the social and educational development of young members is an even more important goal, said Kozma.

“At the end of the day, kids spend more time out of school than in school. The out of school time is very important and what we do here is we prepare them for work and life by developing their soft and their hard skills,” she said.

Patti Alderson, board director for the West Chester and Liberty Township club and a top official with the Ohio alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, praised Kozma’s impact on the club and said the appointment as state ambassador is just the latest part of that work.

“Dale Kozma is a superstar. She is smart, caring, engaging, respected, charismatic and a leader,” said Alderson. “It didn’t take long for the national (club organization) to recognize her talents.”

“She has hired an amazing staff and introduced cutting edge programming. Our club members and their families are very blessed to have such an outstanding role model to lead the club,” she said.

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