The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs has come to Union County.
A grand opening ceremony, with ribbon cutting, was held last week in their location at Monroe Middle School.
Achievement gaps including graduation rates and test scores indicated there is a need. So two years ago plans began to formulate for the beginning of a Union County Club for elementary and middle school youth.
Club members complete an application and pay a $5 yearly fee. Program costs are offset by community donations and fundraisers.
In return, members receive benefits in a safe environment with programs to enhance:
character and leadership development.
education and career development.
health and life skills.
and sports, fitness and recreation.
"These programs stimulate from a holistic approach," said Moses Fox, Union County area club director. "It's not just what they get at school, but what they get outside of school."
Hours of the Club typically run when members are not in school.
Bus transportation is provided to the Boys and Girls Club at Monroe Middle School from a few elementary schools. While transportation is limited, Fox emphasized that the club is open to the entire county.
The maximum capacity is 150 based on current staff and the help of volunteers. Before the official opening, there were already 62 members. The future goal is to offer additional clubs within the county.
Dr. Michael Harvey is a Boys and Girls Club alum, who was a member of the club in Tonawanda, New York. He also is the principal at Monroe Middle School.
"We would fill the club after school, in the evenings and on the weekends," he said.
"Our favorite activities were athletics; however, we also had a great time in the game rooms playing table tennis, pool and air hockey. This is where I had my first experience in athletics, and would learn to be part of a team."
He went on to play basketball in college and remembers the friendships with his teammates as well as the importance of mentors along the way.
"I am certain that Mr. Fox and his staff will have the same impact on the young men and women at Union County's Boys and Girls Club that the staff had on me," Harvey said.
"I am excited to be a part of this initiative and look forward to the impact the club will have on the youth of our community."
Membership applications are available at the front desks at Walter Bickett Elementary, Rock Rest Elementary, Benton Heights Elementary, East Elementary and East Union Middle School. Questions may be directed to Fox at 704-649-6714 or Moses.firstname.lastname@example.org.