By Tom Rohrer
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County (BGCTC) gives children a safe place to go after the bell rings. Tutoring help with homework plus the opportunity to play physically active games with their friends is what parents covet.
While no child will ever be turned away by the Club, it can be a challenge for kids to be transported to a branch after school.
Since its inception in 2006, BGCTC has worked with local school districts to bus kids to a nearby Club.
Spots in this transportation program are limited in school districts with high demand, especially at elementary schools within North Thurston Public Schools in Lacey.
On Monday, August 12, sign-ups were open for the Lacey Boys & Girls Club. To get a spot on the bus that will take their kids from school to the Club, parents began queueing a line at 8:00 am, Sunday, August 11 – 24 hours prior to the sign-ups opening.
Parents recruited family members to take shifts, holding a place in line for over 24 hours, a testament to the importance of this program.
“I’m pretty proud of the programs we run and our staff does a fantastic job for the kids, which has created this demand for families,” said BGCTC Executive Director, Joe Ingoglia. “The club(s) are not limited to a specific number of kids, but there are only so many spots available for the bus program. This is because busses have to take kids who are on a regular bus route and we have an allotted number of seats on each particular bus and school.”
Along with the North Thurston Public Schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County works with the area’s three other districts to provide similar transportation services.
Ingoglia believes the demand from parents is due in part because of the educational and physical fitness activities offered by the club.
“There are two areas we’ve focused on and one is the educational support, which provides homework help, tutoring support and educational programming,” said Ingoglia. “The other is around physical activity and fitness. We keep kids active. We know kids get lots of computer and screen time. When they are at the Club, we want to keep the kids active and moving.”
Ingoglia noted that North Thurston Public Schools uses around 20 buses to transport the kids daily to the Club. BGCTC also drives vans to pick up students at specific locations.
Through his discussions with school district officials, teachers and parents, Ingoglia knows the club’s programs have a positive impacts on the kids.
“Certainly school administrators and parents are very supportive of our programs. All the school districts we work with have a forward way of thinking,” Ingoglia said. “They don’t stop considering them as “their kids” at 3:20 pm or whenever school ends. Anything they can do to help us help the kids, they’re are going to do.”
Ingoglia knows without the support of parents, schools and donors, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County would not be able to offer the programs they do.
“We’re really grateful for the partnerships we have and for all the school districts, family members and community organizations to help kids be successful,” said Ingoglia. “We’re really proud of that.”
For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County, visit http://www.bgctc.org/.