By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
In early September, Jon Charles, CPO of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas (BGCTX), along with Lori Briere, the executive Director of the Belton Christian Youth Center (BCYC), made an announcement during a City Council meeting. BCYC officially announced its new affiliation with BGCTX.
The BCYC has been a positive influence on our community since June of 1982 when it was started by two local businessmen, Jerry Brentham and Roy Wood. Since then, BCYC has grown in leaps and bounds and continues to grow. Response by the community far exceeded the founders’ wildest expectations, and at the request of numerous parents, activities were expanded to year-round. In 1999, BCYC moved to its current location with about 30,000 square feet of building space, and serving nearly 1,200 students annually, offering many programs and recreational activities throughout the year. BCYC is dependent on the continued assistance of our dedicated partners and the surrounding community.
So what does the merger between the BCYC and BGCTX really mean?
“Being an affiliate of BGCTX is that it gives them (BCYC) a number of opportunities, some of it is resource related,” said Tiana Marratta, Vice President of Operations for BGCTX. “We have a resource development team who looks for opportunities for us to get funding for our programs or for additional programs or additional staff to run those programs.”
“ELC, OJP, and the Texan Program are programs that came about as part of our participation with BGCTX,” Briere added. “Smart Girls, Passport to Manhood are examples of those programs offered through BGCTX that we can now offer to our kids.” Marratta added that by having access to the different programs that the Boys and Girls Club of America is known for will help children “do better in academic success, healthy lifestyles, character, and leadership development.”
“We went to great lengths when we set up Central Texas in 2008 to make sure we are keeping local assets and local dollars in local communities under the auspices of a local board of directors,” Charles commented. “We have a total of 260 staff members manning all the locations throughout Central Texas. Every community presents different needs and that’s why keeping local control of the local boards, but still working in one joint support, allows us to share administrative functions, allows us to raise dollars that we couldn’t raise before, which can create national partnerships.”
BGCTX holds national partnerships with large businesses such as Microsoft, Taco Bell, Academy, and University of Phoenix.
“As Boys and Girls Club has created those national partnerships, they send down that money where it will do the most good,” Charles explained. “BCYC had no national affiliate and were previously just a local non-profit, missed out on national opportunities which they will now be able to take advantage of. It’s about using those resources to help local kids be successful.”
“We’re all one, we’re all in the same business, the youth development business, and that’s to see kids be successful. We come together and better serve kids by meeting a need in that local community and continue to work together and do positive things together for our local kids,” Charles continued. “For us it’s just about serving kids.
“I have grandsons, all are completely different, but I want for them the same thing that I want for any child: 1) they have a good education, 2) they live a healthy life, 3) they have character even when their grandpa isn’t looking. Those values are built into evidence-based programs that are provided through BGCTX. We provide a well-rounded program that really hits in those three priority outcome areas. Those programs provide kids the opportunity to get more than just having fun after school. I like to call it fun with a purpose.”
Using the common phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child,” “I think more and more youth professionals are understanding that working together and all putting our resources and thoughts into it helps make sure the child is well rounded and gets everything that he/she needs, whether that’s from an economic standpoint or from the mentoring that they may need,” Marratta added.
“We’re going to thrive,” Briere commented. “Not just for BCYC but with the community, it’s going to affect the families as well as the community. Our mission is about giving these kids a safe place and bringing those Christian values through programming. I’m really excited, we have a great team. There’s going to be some great things to come out of here.”