According to Neff Clark, a seventh-grader at Shady Cove Middle School, “Kids who roam around streets with nothing to do but cause havoc are going to the Cool Club.” He added, “The club is very helpful to kids.” His friend Delaney Perrin, an eighth-grader at the same school, said, “It’s cool.”
Both of these students have 4.0 grade averages and go to the club (teen center) when sports activities do not interfere with club hours. The club is now open on Friday afternoons but when hours expand to three days a week, both will utilize the club more frequently, Clark and Perrin said.
To help the center become an official Boys & Girls Club and open three days a week, eight dedicated, local community members are fundraising. Their goal of $60,000 and three years of pledges is now at 70 percent, said Branch Director Carrie Beebe of the Rogue Valley Boys & Girls Club. Three years of funding is required by the B & G Club to ensure sustainability
Statistics speak for the need of a teen center in the Upper Rogue. According to Shady Cove School Principal, Tiffany O’Donnell, 67 percent of Shady Cove kids qualify for free or reduced food programs and 12 percent of these students are homeless, compared to the state average of 3 percent. In Shady Cove, approximately 6 teens become pregnant each year.
There are 320 Shady Cove youth, 11 to 18 years-old, that could benefit from this program and 120 of those have attended the weekly Friday nights at the club. About 55 youth are in attendance each time it is open. Although the statistics are for Shady Cove, the club is open to all age-appropriate youth in the Upper Rogue, including Prospect and Butte Falls.
When the Boys & Girls Club officially takes over, programs will be offered such as health, education, career exploration, the arts, sports fitness and recreation. Most importantly, the staff specializes in character development, said O’Donnell.
O’Donnell encourages people to help a child have a safe-positive environment after school. Memberships are $40 annually although it costs the Boys & Girls Club $500 per child. “It is the best deal in town,” said O’Donnell. No student will be turned away for lack of money or asked for money. All donations stay in Shady Cove.
The club has been O’Donnell’s dream since she began teaching in Shady Cove several years ago. She said, “With your help, our Boys & Girls Club staff would provide youth with activities designed to capture their interest, teach skills and build supportive relationships.” One Boys & Girls Club can offer hope to an entire neighborhood.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Shady Cove residents Allen Blakemore and Lynn Horn took the opportunity to stop by the club and see for themselves what it was like. They were very impressed with the variety of activities for the kids. “We were so happy to see so many kids using the club. We will do what we can to support it,” Horn said.
Blakemore and Horn are not the only residents to visit the club. Mary Kerns, director of the Cool Club, said the club has community involvement and people stop by frequently. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the community because the area is rural,” said Kerns.
To make an investment in the youth of this community, pledge forms are available at Shady Cove School. For more information, call O’Donnell at 261-8809 or Carrie Beebe at 291-0061. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent