I love the holidays! The only thing I ever truly don’t look forward to about the holidays is the inevitable after dinner questioning by my relatives about why my husband, Clay, and I haven’t had a baby. The fact is we decided years ago that having kids was not for us and have made peace with that decision.
But oddly enough, 2013 became the year of “the kids” for us – but no, not in the way you might be thinking. About nine months ago (coincidentally), Clay and I got involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides after-school and summer enrichment programs for at-risk youth. Our involvement actually started because of a Facebook post that Clay read about efforts to refurbish the computer lab at the Slidell Unit of BGCSELA. After making a few phone calls, he took a tour of the Slidell Club to see what the needs were, and he was really moved by what he saw. In fact, Clay couldn’t stop talking about the Club! Seeing his excitement about something kid-related was a little surprising because of our complete inexperience regarding kids! Intrigued by this new side of my husband, we both started learning more about BGCSELA and its mission.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana
Since the early 1960s, BGCSELA has been dedicated to building a brighter future for the young people of southeast Louisiana. Through its four Club sites located in New Orleans, Covington, Slidell and the Westbank, BGCSELA reaches over 1,500 youth annually between the ages of 6 and 18 years old and provides them with a safe, nurturing and fun alternative to the streets or being home alone after school.
At the heart of its mission is the goal of ensuring that kids and teens have access to the resources that they will need to succeed in life. It does so by offering programs that are designed to follow the “Formula for Impact” – which is basically a roadmap for helping Club members achieve academic success, become good citizens and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. What is really amazing is that Club programming manages to keep the atmosphere fun through educational games, group activities and peer interactions. Boys & Girls Clubs also introduce kids to unique opportunities – for example, some of our Club members participated in the “Hour of Code” challenge for Computer Science Education Week. The goal was to encourage and inspire kids to become interested in computer programming. That’s ultimately what Boys & Girls Clubs are about – opening doors to great futures for our kids!
Many Club members come from disadvantage backgrounds, so the Boys & Girls Club can be an important source of stability in their lives. Especially with more parents having to work multiple jobs or longer hours, BGCSELA is an important resource for families who want to make sure that their children have a safe place to go after school and in the summer. Membership fees are kept very low, and the Clubs never turn away a child or family who cannot afford the membership fee.
Why We Got Involved
As Clay and I got to know more about BGCSELA, it just became really apparent to us that the organization has a giant need for volunteers to help with everything from fundraising to mentoring to facility repairs. And when we read some of the national statistics about the impacts of Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide – 57% of Boys & Girls Club alumni say the Club experience saved their life – we knew that we had to get involved.
So even though we live in New Orleans, we saw that the Slidell Unit was in particular need for volunteers and began focusing our efforts on that Club. We started off by launching an annual campaign to raise $250,000 to fund the Club’s annual operating expenses. We have a long way to go, but you can help us meet this goal by making a donation today. If you are looking for other ways to give back, check out the Club’s Wish List and Volunteer Wish List.
How You Can Give the Gift of a Great Future
Although Clay and I have chosen to support the Slidell Unit of BGCSELA, all of the Clubs need your support to reach even more young people! There are so many more children throughout southeast Louisiana who could benefit from the programs and services provided by our Clubs! Limited funding prevents the Clubs from hiring more staff, buying more computers and making physical upgrades, all of which are are crucial to serving more children.
The greatest need is for individuals and companies who can sponsor a child for one year. Sponsorships are$1,500 per year to cover the cost of programming for one child.
Please consider opening the door to more Great Futures by making a gift to BGCSELA!
Katie is a member of the Advisory Board for the Slidell Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana. A New York City native, Katie moved to New Orleans to study law at Tulane. Burnt out by several years of litigation practice, Katie is now studying computer programming. She is living happily ever after with her husband Clay and their senior puppy, Millie.