These days, 17-year-old Tatiana Roland of the Neil S. Hirsch Boys & Girls Club has a small but crucial role in allowing the facility to reopen for direct service for children for summer camp. She’s one of about 50 teens that Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County hired through the Junior Staff program to assist the other 300 staff members to reopen 13 Clubs during a global pandemic. Extra staff is crucial for Clubs to meet CDC COVID-19 guidelines to allow for lower than normal staff to child ratios due to social distancing.
“I’m the environmental specialist, making sure that all of the Club members social distance, wear their face masks and of course, wash their hands. I do whatever is needed, so I also help with our Farm to Family grocery distribution program. I’m so glad to have this job. Otherwise, I would be just sitting at home,” said Roland. “I use my paycheck to save for college and to help my mother pay for some of the bills since she is a single mom.”
In addition to hiring extra staff to meet COVID-19 guidelines, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County made it a priority that no employees were laid-off while the Clubs were closed for direct service for three months. This was essential for the Clubs to reopen to children as quickly as possible, and was a priority from the organization’s corporate board and staff leadership.
“It was imperative for us to make sure that our employees could keep working. We also felt it was important to do our part to help stabilize the economy. To ensure employment, our Clubs transitioned overnight to become a major food distributor for families in need,” said President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County Jaene Miranda.
Since the transition, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County has given out more than 420,000 meals and snacks to children across Palm Beach County, while also providing a week’s worth of groceries to 54,000 Club family members through the Farm to Family program with partners like Fresh RX Kids and Living Hungry.
“It’s been a lot of mental and physical hard work to accomplish what we’ve done in a short period, and our staff has met every challenge placed before them. Our Clubs opening for summer camp doesn’t mean the need in our community has diminished. As such, we are committed to continuing our emergency food programs while operating our summer camps,” said Miranda.
The cost to reopen during a pandemic and added expenses to continue large-scale food programs comes with a hefty price tag. Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County must raise $750,000 this summer to cover the extra expenses. The food programs make up 60 percent of the additional expenditures. $450,000 is needed to pay extra staff since volunteers are not allowed due to COVID-19 safeguards, added transportation costs, and non-donated food expenses to ensure Club families are provided the food they need to stay healthy.
An additional $300,000 is needed to offset the costs to reopen the Clubs during the pandemic. This pays for added staff for disinfection protocols, sanitation supplies, PPE, furniture, plus technology and equipment purchases to allow for social distancing and enhanced virtual programming in all Club classrooms.
“To help cover these necessary expenses, we’ve kicked off our summer campaign. We’re thankful for the generous donations that we’ve received. We still need to raise $450,000 to meet our $750,000 goal to deliver on our commitment to our Club children. Our donors tell us that they value that we are helping with the recovery efforts on an individual level, a staff level and even community level,” explained Miranda.
Roland’s transition from a Club member to staff member is a perfect example as to what the Clubs can accomplish on a personal level. The soon-to-be high school senior has been coming to the Wellington Club since sixth grade. During that time, Club staff helped her recover after her father passed away two years ago. By working in the Clubs during a pandemic, she’s ready to do her part to assist in the recovery effort and to help any Club members who may need it personally.
“I love the kids. I can be there when they are having a bad day. The older staff are still mentors, and they’re now helping me to apply to college. My co-workers really aren’t co-workers. I feel like they are family,” said Roland.
For information or to contribute to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s summer campaign, contact Jaene Miranda at 561-683-3287.