Representatives of the Cleveland Boys & Girls Clubs, one of four professionally funded organizations benefiting from the grant, gave an update on the club’s seven local units and all of the programs available to kids in the community.
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel, grant manager, served as master of ceremonies for the day’s program. There were also updates from project liaison Warren D. Moberg, and grant evaluator David Watts.
Watts reported, “A couple of times a year we pull everything we have together to see where we’re at. We just completed a six-month review for program coordinators. We came away thinking Cleveland is looking pretty good.”
The other three funded partners (in the grant), in addition to the Boys & Girls Clubs, include the Cleveland Police Department, Bradley County’s Juvenile Court and the Behavioral Research Institute. Several nonprofits are also involved.
“This program (grant) has brought together some people who may not have come together otherwise,” said Terry Gallaher, director of Bradley County’s Juvenile Court.
“Anything that can bring our agencies together is good,” Gallaher added. “Juvenile Court has never worked with city government before,” he added. “This is something we’ve done with this grant.”
Gallaher added the TTCCR support team is actively working with some short-term issues. “But, the biggest thing is long-term issues,” he said.
“The key to this,” Gallaher said, “is the leadership we’re getting from all the agencies.”
Boys & Girls Clubs Director Charles Sutton introduced several of the club’s officers, which accomplished the task of bringing those at the meeting up to date on club programs and what the club is doing for the community’s youth.
Operations Director Derrick Kinsey, information-technology director Mike Thompson, and parent coordinator Katrina Payne provided a wealth of information to a receptive audience.
“We enjoy showing you what we provide at the Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Kinsey.
“I graduated from Lee University, was given a position at the club, and I love it!” Kinsey said to open his presentation. “We’re looking to expand the partnerships between our seven neighborhood units,” he added.
Kinsey informed those at the meeting the local Boys & Girls Clubs is planning a new Benton unit, which will offer the key programs now available in Cleveland.
Those programs include Power Hour, Second Steps, Kids College, Digital Arts, Healthy Habits, Smart Moves, Life Skills, Positive Action, Goals for Graduates, Triple Play, Keystone and hot meals and healthy snacks.
Kinsey said the Cleveland club served more than 8,050 hot meals last year, and more than 48,000 snacks.
Other activities include help with homework, computer labs at each of the seven facilities, and academic programs. Statistics show more than 70 percent of club members maintained their GPA, 68 percent improved their ethical values and 52 percent improved their positive action development.
Additional activities for club members include BMX racing, daily challenges (Triple Play), a traveling (high school) basketball team, two flag football leagues and three basketball leagues.
There is a fishing tournament each year, and a performing arts program called “Cleveland Has Talent,” modeled after the popular TV show.
Kinsey said the club attempts to improve character and let the kids have a good time. “As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘If I do good, I feel good,’ Kinsey related. “That’s our concept at the Cleveland Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Kinsey added it’s not just about kids. “Last year we had 842 parent activities, outside of sports,” he said. Among these events were family picnics, a gourmet burger cookoff and holiday parties. More than 1,250 attended the club’s annual Christmas party.
“We want to do more with parents,” Kinsey added. “We want to be a place where they can go and enjoy their time.”
Asked by Casteel how people get involved with the club’s operation, Kinsey said, “If you come by (the Tucker Unit) we will get you involved.”
Thompson, who was selected as the Boys & Girls Clubs Employee of the Year this Year, related how the club’s technology has progressed to where it can monitor individual units, separate age groups and even individuals. Staff can assist club members in areas where they may have weaknesses.
Gallaher praised the Boys & Girls Clubs, the TTCCR panel and the progress the agency is making. “This is great,” he said. “This is probably one of the most important things we’ve seen (in working with youth in Bradley County).”
“Kids are all our problem, and this program needs to continue to grow,” he said.
“These kids are our future,” said Casteel as she closed Tuesday’s meeting.
“This program and others are how we learn what is happening in our community,” said Watts.