Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri shapes future for local children
The Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri has provided a safe, fun place for children to learn and grow for more than 60 years. Every day after school, kids ages 6 to 18 are welcomed into the club with open arms to get help with homework, have a warm meal, play games and so much more.
The club currently serves about 400 children per day at its main center in Joplin and three school sites in Webb City. Children can attend after-school programming as well as summer programming.
Kids participate in five core areas of Character & Leadership, Education & Career, Health & Life Skills, the Arts, and Sports & Recreation. A few of the programs include Smart Moves, Passport to Manhood, Career Launch, Meth Smart, Tutoring, and Power Hour.
“All members receive help completing homework, have access to a fully equipped computer lab, access to tutoring if they need, enjoy recreation time and get to build meaningful relationships with professional staff and other club members,” said Rhonda Gorham, executive director for BGC of Southwest Missouri.
Rhonda has worked with BGC for nearly 12 years, and every day at the club looks a little bit different.
“Kids show up at 3 p.m. with smiles on their faces. If they have homework, we have staff waiting to help them get it done so they can start programming,” she expressed. “They rotate through programs every 45 minutes and get exposure to four different program areas per day. Every room, including our gyms, has an educational component to it.”
The Joplin club serves a warm dinner every evening from 4 to 5 p.m. Members at the Webb City clubs receive an after-school snack. In the summer, all locations serve breakfast and lunch. BGC acquires all of this food from Ozarks Food Harvest.
“We know kids come from school hungry, so we moved our mealtime up to ensure every kid gets to eat before they are called to go home,” said Rhonda.
Members are encouraged to get involved with meal preparation, service and clean-up at the club. Each Day, five children can assist in the kitchen. They open cans, grab items from storage and serve meals. After dinner, they wipe down tables and help with dishes.
“When they sign up for this program they learn about safety in the kitchen, appropriate food storage, cleaning techniques and serving others,” Rhonda said.
Rhonda believes the future is bright for BGC of Southwest Missouri. The organization is currently running a capital campaign to raise money for a 13,000 square-foot addition. They plan to break ground later this month.
“This will allow us to eliminate our long-time waiting list. We will be able to assist more kids to find their great future. Our kids are very excited about our new and remodeled area we will be getting soon,” she shared.
We’re so grateful for the incredible work Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri is doing for children in Joplin and Webb City. Learn more about the organization here.