Reopening Clubs helps recovery efforts while providing a safe space for children

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County is once again on the frontlines of relief efforts. On Monday, 10 Clubs across Palm Beach County reopened for direct service to children while continuing to offer its virtual platform for those children unable to attend in person. The Clubs are among the first in the county to reopen and provide a safe space for working parents to send their children. Because of the Clubs, more employees can report to work, and fewer children are being left home alone.

“I was about to lose my job because I had nowhere to send my daughter during my shifts. One day I even had to bring my child to work. She sat in the lobby during my entire shift,” said a parent from the Florence De George Club in West Palm Beach. “I’m extremely thankful for the Boys & Girls Club. Without their summer camp, I’m certain I would be without a job today.”

This is a familiar story across Palm Beach County. As local businesses reopen, many parents struggle to find a suitable place to send their children with most summer camps closed. Many local parents have to make a tough choice between not going to work or leaving their children at home unsupervised.

“We felt a strong sense of responsibility to our Club children and their families to reopen our facilities as soon as possible. At the same time, we needed to reopen safely. We’ve adopted all of the recommended CDC guidelines, follow strict social distancing rules, and maintain scheduled disinfecting protocols,” said Jaene Miranda, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County president & CEO.

Miranda continued to explain that the extra costs were a direct investment in children and the community. Every Club focuses on providing a safe place for children, while also working to eliminate any academic slide due to distance learning hardships. Many Club children were at a significant disadvantage while schools were closed due to a lack of devices and home internet access. Clubs use accredited teachers to eliminate what some experts predict will be a full academic year slide for some students.

To help offset the extra expenditures, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County launched a summer campaign to raise $750,000.  Unexpected expenses include personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, extra employees due to smaller staff/Club member ratios and higher programming costs. The fund will also help to extend through Labor Day emergency food programs created immediately after the pandemic impacted the economy.

”We launched our summer campaign with a generous matching gift of $100,000 from Amy & John Phelan. The immediate response over the last week has been validation that the community believes in what we are doing to help move forward the recovery efforts in Palm Beach County. We’ve raised over $200,000 from such donors as FPL, Office Depot and Faith Church,” said Miranda.

Despite the great start to the summer campaign, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County needs to meet the $750,000 goal to cover the extra costs as food insecurity increases in our area. Already the Clubs’ Grab and Go food program has served more than 416,000 meals and snacks, while the Farm to Family program has provided a week’s worth of groceries to 52,000 Club family members.

“We can’t take our foot off the gas. Our Club families need us, and local businesses need us to be open so that their employees can come to work. This is a critical time for the recovery of our economy, and our Clubs reopening is one more step in the right direction,” said Miranda.

Economic recovery is top of mind for Club parents as well. Tracy Jones is a single mother of seven-year-old twins. She recently lost her job due to the COVID-19 downturn, and her mother recently died. She has struggled to find a new job with nowhere reliable to send her children while she looks for employment.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs has allowed me to put the pieces back together. Without the Club, I would not be able to find a new job. Now I can focus on what’s next for my family and not have to worry if my children are safe while looking for work,” said Jones.

For information or to contribute to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s summer campaign, contact Jaene Miranda at jmiranda@bgcpbc.org or 561-683-3287.

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