This article is one in a series of stories focusing on local agencies that receive support from the United Way of Chaves County, which is currently conducting its annual fundraising campaign.
A sound body and a sound mind make sound citizens.
United Way agency Roswell Boys & Girls Club has offered programs aimed at just that since its 1965 inception. The after school program is now working to widen its breadth of offerings so as to better serve the 50 to 60 youth that spend their weekday afternoons at its 201 S. Grand Ave. location.
If you visit the club on any weekday between 3 and 7 p.m., you’ll find youngsters age 5 to 17 working on homework with adult volunteer supervisors, getting drilled on academic skills like multiplication, playing sports or just enjoying the company of other young club members.
Director of the Roswell Boys & Girls Club Jaynan McKelcey, who oversees programs and staff, said the club is important because “these are our kids.”
“You know, they’re our future,” she said.
The goal of the program is for its members to grow into adults who are engaged in the community. According to McKelcey, evidence of the program’s success can be found just by looking at the five volunteers who aid the six staff members of the club. Some of those volunteers used to be members of the program themselves.
The club is currently working to expand its offering of sports activities to include wrestling. It also hopes to re-open the pool it previously managed on behalf of the city, which the organization closed three years ago due to maintenance needs that were beyond budget.
In addition to after school programs and day programs during school holidays, the club runs a summer camp through the months of June and July.
All of these amenities are offered at an affordable price. The typical cost for a child who is a member of the Boys & Girls Club for a year is around $400, said McKelcey.
The cost still may be out of reach for some families, which is why the club offers scholarships. McKelcey said over half of all current members receive at least some scholarship money.
This is where residents of Roswell can get involved.
McKelcey said the program is always looking for more volunteers to tutor kids, give them snacks and generally act as supervisors.
Monetary donations to the club go to purchasing school materials for the program’s study Power Hour, sports supplies for the club’s physical education class and for kids to use during free time, snacks and the scholarship program.
McKelcey said she did not know what percentage of the overall budget of the Roswell Boys & Girls Club came from United Way. She said that last year, United Way gave about $20,000 to the club, which all came from United Way’s annual fundraiser.
“I just know that without United Way, that this all wouldn’t be possible,” she said. “Whatever it [United Way funding] is, it’s always been appreciated and needed.”