A new branch of the Boys and Girls Club opened in Etowah on September 26th. They “have 45 members registered and… are serving around 20-25 a day right now,” according to Etowah Unit Director Rebekah Pierce. This is BGC’s first branch in McMinn County.
Pierce said, “We have had a huge outpouring of love from Etowah, and we cannot say thank you enough for welcoming us and being so supportive! We are off to a great start and have big plans!”
She explained some of their activities: “We do what we call Power Hour which is homework time, and if they don’t have homework, they do some kind of educational activity. The staff plan those out each day… We usually try to do two snacks per afternoon… We do STEM once a week.” They also get a lot of time to play outside.
Rebekah Pierce also discussed Passport to Manhood and Smart Girls where students are split between boys and girls to learn life skills and character building. She explained, “The staff might have someone come in and teach them how to change a tire, or do a cooking lesson, or talk about hygiene, or talk about manners. Yesterday, the boys did mock interviews and learned about things you should and shouldn’t do in an interview and how you should dress and things you shouldn’t say… We do a lot of fun stuff. They really don’t even realize they’re learning until it’s over with.”
Holly Stroud, BGC’s Central Units Director of Operations for McMinn and Polk Counties, said, “Our goal is to grow from Etowah to Athens, and then… the sky is the limit from there.” She thanked everybody who donated, and she gave special thanks to the McMinn Youth Center Board of Directors for working hard to raise money.
Stroud wants parents to know that BGC is “an affordable after school program that provides a safe environment for kids… We stay open from right after school till seven o’clock, and we do homework help, we do life skills, we do programming, we do mentorship. We’re there to be… like a secondary parent or a coach to these kids.”
“I could talk for days about the way that this organization changes lives,” Stroud said. “There’s so many days where kids are called to go home and they say they don’t want to leave because they just love it here.”
She shared the story of a boy who’d been in the club a few years ago who had endured a lot of trauma in his life. He would lash out at other kids and bully them.
“Our staff here just poured into him,” Stroud said. “We worked with the mother… on parenting, and we worked together, and we got his grades up, and now he’s one of the most liked kids in my club.”
To sign up your child, contact Rebekah Pierce at 423-790-8147 or email her at [email protected]. Etowah City School and Mountain View Elementary have membership forms in the front office. Fees are $20 per week, but scholarships are available for families that can’t pay.