MASSENA - Representatives from the proposed Boys and Girls Club of Massena are seeking support from the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerces member businesses to make the club a reality.
The best ideas go nowhere without the support of the community. They have stepped up nicely. Massena can be proud of the fact that the community is stepping up. We have at most two dozen folks who religiously provide time and talents, Capital Campaign Committee member William Wolf told members of the chambers Board of Directors during their recent meeting.
With a capital campaign goal of $750,000 for the purchase, renovation and five years of operating expenses, We need the community to step up. Boys and Girls Clubs do not rely on the government, Mr. Wolf said, encouraging chamber members to support the cause.
Once were up and running, we very much believe in partnerships, giving back to the community. Well come back not to ask, but to give back, he said.
Timmy J. Currier, chairman of the Boys and Girls Club of Massena Board of Directors and chairman of the Campaign Committee, said the club, which is an offshoot of the Neighborhood Watch program, can go a long way in helping Massenas youth. He said, despite the belief of many that Massena is a retirement community, statistics actually indicate that 16.6 percent of the population is over 65 years old, while 23.5 percent is under age 18.
One out of four kids are born into poverty. Those kids cant afford to do anything, such as participate in hockey or soccer, according to Mr. Currier, who said 51 percent of the students in the Massena Central School District quality for free or reduced lunches.
He recalled this past summer when the community held a Love Massena Day in the Alcoa Field neighborhood.
Someone said that for many of those kids this is all theyll do this summer. For some of those kids, thats all they get to do, Mr. Currier said.
The club will offer activities that will keep kids busy, he said, as well as assist with their education. He said that, while Massena Central had done great work to raise their graduation rates to 76 percent, the typical graduation rate for Boys and Girls Club communities is in the 90 percentile.
They dont replace it. Theyre in the job of supporting the educational process. Theres a strong relationship with the district and the Boys and Girls Club if its done effectively. A lot of retired teachers have said, I want to get involved when those doors open, Mr. Currier said.
He also noted that nearly 70 percent of the individuals in the state penitentiaries dont have a high school diploma.
The Boys and Girls Club, however, could be a step to keep youngsters out of the criminal justice system. It would get kids off the street and support the educational process, he said.
Mr. Wolf said the overall club mission is to allow the communitys youth to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
But in order to see that change, he said, they have to reach the youth early in their lives with initiatives like the Boys and Girls Club.
It attempts to impact every phase of a childs life, Mr. Wolf said.
In the educational area, he said they would have one section of the club dedicated to homework help and educational assistance. Staff members, he said, will be trained to develop a relationship with kids early on.
The staff will know every child by their first name and establish a relationship with their teachers. The staffs role and responsibility is to establish a relationship with the kids. Their job is one-on-one with kids, he said.
Club officials have an agreement to purchase the former St. Josephs Social Hall, which would serve as the clubhouse for the youth, a place that is their own, he said.
We can handle 150 kids in the building. We anticipate a membership of 500, Mr. Wolf said. St. Josephs is just perfect for what we want to do.
Unlike some other local recreational sites such as the Massena Arena, the clubhouse would be a place the kids could call home, according to Mr. Wolf.
This is a kids home, this is a kids place, he said. The Boys and Girls Club is organized pandemonium. Thats what kids see; thats what kids like. From our perspective, thats what brings kids in and keeps them coming back.
He said they plan to have programs that are specifically designed for teens, such as a tech center with computers, an arts area and another area that will offer some type of physical fitness activities.
The program will be flexible and designed to meet the needs of the kids. Its just overall fun stuff. We realize these kids just spent six hours in school and are going to explode when they get in there, Mr. Wolf said.
The walk-in program will cost between $6 to $10 a year per child, but no child will be turned away based on an inability to pay, he said.
The idea for charging is what you dont pay for, you dont appreciate, he said.
Mr. Wolf said they envision being open six days a week year-round, but thats subject to change. Although the Boys and Girls Club is not traditionally open on Sunday, community needs can dictate adding the seventh day.
We exist to serve the needs of the community, he said.