February 2023
Let The Children Lead
When members of the community attended the Martinsburg Club open house on December 19, they were taken on guided tours of the newly renovated building. Most of these tours were co-led by a club member who was often more knowledgeable about their club than the adults!

Since one of the primary goals of the Boys & Girls Club is to help with character and leadership development, we are always looking for opportunities to help kids to step outside their comfort zone, try something new, and take ownership of their club.
The club members did a great job. One community member commented a few days later "Mackenzie was an amazing tour guide. She was very impressive."
MacKenzie, a club kid at the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, assists with showing off the renovated Martinsburg location during an open house event for the community.  Journal photo by Emily Keefer
Asked and Answered
A community member recently asked one of our staff members, "Isn't the Boys & Girls Club mostly about providing a place for kids to play sports?" The staff member wasn't sure how to begin explaining what the Boys & Girls Club is all about, so they simply said, "We care for and about the kids that need us."
While that is true, it doesn't answer any of the follow-up questions that people often have. Hopefully, the information below explains what we do on a daily basis:

Q. Who do you serve?
A. The Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle is open to youth ages 6 - 18 in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties. Eighty-three percent of those we serve receive free and reduced lunch at their respective school.
Q. Is there a cost for the afterschool program?
A. The fee per child for one month of afterschool membership is $15.00.
Q. What if a family can't afford to pay $15.00 a month for each child
A. We provide a sliding fee scale for low-income families and through a partnership with Unicare, all of their clients are fully sponsored.
Q. What do the kids actually do at the club?
A. Our Unit directors are responsible for creating a schedule of planned activities each day. One of our top priorities is ensuring kids get the most out of their education, so homework help is always on the schedule. Our staff is committed to ensuring that all our members are caught up on their homework assignments and are ready to learn the next school day. The daily schedule also includes programming that focuses on character development, healthy habits, STEM, art, life skills, and recreation. While members have to participate in certain activities, they also have time during which they can choose the activities in which they want to participate. All activities are supervised by trained staff.
Q. Do you feed the kids when they are at the club?
A. The Boys & Girls Club participates in the USDA feeding program to, provide healthy meals and snacks to children during out-of-school time, Currently one in six youth experienced food insecurity, especially during the summer.
Q. Is your summer program the same as the after-school program?
A. The summer camp is an all-day program that focuses on summer brain gain to prevent summer learning loss. Activities are focused on hands-on learning and often involve field trips and recreation.
Q. Why is the summer program more expensive than the afterschool program?
A. The summer program is an all-day program so it requires more staff. Additionally, staff plans many field trips and outings that cost money.

Q. Does the cost of the summer program prevent low-income families from participating?
A. Families who cannot afford the cost of the summer program can fill out a scholarship application. We offer three levels: 75% of the normal cost; 50% of the normal cost, and 25% of the normal cost. We don't offer any program for free as we want the families to be invested in sending their child.
Q. How are donations used?
A. The cost of delivering programs far exceeds the amount that families are charged for both the afterschool and summer programs. The Boys & Girls Club depends on grants, donations, and sponsorships to ensure we can continue to provide quality programs and services. In addition to paying for the maintenance and operation of three facilities and purchasing all of the necessary items to deliver meaningful programming, we must pay our staff and ensure they have appropriate training.

The Power of Mentoring
Mentoring by our trained youth development professionals, leadership team, board members, and other volunteers is the foundation of all the work the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle does in its five focus areas: education and career, character and leadership, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness, and recreation.

Mentoring involves a positive adult who develops a relationship with youth and notices their strengths, listens to their concerns, and opens doors of possibility. From connecting youth to a program that deepens their interests to sparking their curiosity in a future career field, inspiring mentors help kids and teens explore their full potential. The supportive, healthy, relationships formed between mentors and mentees contribute to a host of benefits including increased high school graduation rates, lower high school dropout rates, better attitudes about schools, higher college enrollment rates and aspirations, and enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence.

In recognition of National Mentoring Month in January, our staff discussed what mentoring means to them:
  •  I like being a mentor to the youth that need me like I needed the staff when I was a kid.- Leah

  •  One of the best aspects of being a mentor is knowing that (hopefully) I am someone who is a positive role model in a child's world. I feel honored to be a trusted adult, especially when the young person is comfortable sharing with me. The best part is seeing their pride when they have my attention and want to show me something new: a dance they mastered from TikTok, their good report card, or a worksheet that earned a sticker at school. And, of course, the hugs.- Cathy 

  •  I like being a mentor because I like knowing that my presence is benefitting kids and they feel comfortable to come to me with anything they want to talk about. - Caleyah

  •   What makes me a good mentor: my desk is always chair ready and open for love, hugs band-aids, and ice packs. Of course, the kids feel better, and my candy is always a big hit!- Tonie H. (Front Desk)

  •  The reason I love being a mentor is the kids and the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Seeing the smiles on their face makes my whole day. - Toni

  •    My favorite part about being a mentor is being able to be a positive role model for kids and see growth in the members I work with.- Arielle

  •   I love being a mentor because being given the opportunity to have a positive impact on another person and help them to see and reach their highest potential is a true gift and honor. -Kathleen
Grateful Kids and Families
The Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle doesn't just serve kids who come to the club. We also serve their families, many of who struggle financially. After they have provided their children with basic needs, such as shelter, food, and clothes, they don't have money left over for luxury items. This can be particularly difficult at Christmas when kids believe Santa is going to come through.
This year, Santa did come through for many of our families thanks to a caring community that sponsored Boys & Girls Club children and families for Christmas.
One sponsor even bought a tree for a family and dropped it off at the family's home well before Christmas so the family got to enjoy decorating it together. When people ask what they can do for the club, we like to remind them that there are opportunities to help our families as well!
Replace Amazon Smiles with Round Ups
With Amazon recently announcing that it is ending its Amazon Smiles programs, please remember there is another easy way to give to the Boys & Girls Club: round up!
A "Round-Up" is the term to describe the spare change captured by automatically rounding up your transactions to the next dollar when making a purchase with your bank card. Your bank account probably won't even notice the difference - but our club will!
Just use the QR code to link to our "Round Up" sign up or go to: https://bgcepwv.harnessgiving.org/campaigns/8859

Find Us on Social Media

The Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle relies on donors to help us keep our doors open.

Our Mission: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

For more information, contact our administrative offices at 304-263-1832 or visit our website at https://www.bgcepwv.net/.