Author Angie Stumpo

Our online Fine Art Auction is now LIVE!

Check out all of the beautiful artwork available for you! We have pieces ranging in value from $75 up to $2,800- with lower starting bids! The best part? 100% of the proceeds go to our much-needed programs and services for kids in our community.

Bidding ends Sunday, December 19 at 7:00 pm- just in time for the holidays. PLUS enjoy 20% off framing at Frames Unlimited, AND for every piece framed, they will donate $20 back to the Clubs!

Questions? Contact Kristin Griffes at kgriffes@bgcgrandrapids.org.

Happy bidding!


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ART!

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Jaycole Glenn, 16, never thought he’d be driving now. Driver’s training can cost upwards of $600 to complete, and he couldn’t get a permit without it.

“I thought I was going to get it when I turned 18, or when I was older,” said Jaycole. “But now I’ve passed segment one of training and can start practicing and getting ready for segment two. I just got my first job so I can start saving up to buy a car.”

Jaycole is one of six graduates of the new Drive for Success program, started by the community policing officers stationed at the Clubs, Derrick Learned, Ray Erickson and Javo’n Sanders. They saw many teens and young staff members without a permit or license, and wanted to do something to help.

They partnered with Century Driving School to provide quality drivers training to eligible Club members at no cost. The program also includes mentoring, hands-on training, test preparation, instruction on police procedure, and life skills development. The officers hope the program will help decrease the number of motor vehicle incidents involving young drivers and license-related violations.

Demand for the program grew exponentially and there are more than 70 young people interested in attending. The next session is slated to begin in October, and we need your help to enroll up to 20 students. If you would like to donate to Drive for Success, please visit www.bgcgrandrapids.org/driveforsuccess.

Congratulations to Officer Derrick Learned for being named a finalist for the International Association Chiefs of Police Officer of the Year award for his role in creating Drive for Success! Only four people in law enforcement around the world are selected as finalists.

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Taniah Ingram is no stranger to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. She worked at the Club starting in 2017 while in school studying psychology. Now a practicing behavioral health technician and volunteer at the Clubs, she wanted to give back in a unique way – and the Better Beings Creative Mentorship Program was born.

The objective of the Better Beings Creative Mentorship Program is to foster a safe and enriching environment for students to explore their creative niche. It pairs kids with creative mentors to work on art projects while building an understanding of love and belonging, while improving self-esteem and self-actualization.

“The idea for mentorship came about while there was a lot of uncertainty in the world,” explained Taniah. “As a result, I wanted to provide an outlet for expression as well as an enriching environment to do so for the youth in my community. The Boys & Girls Club seemed like the perfect place to begin this journey.”

Club members worked with their mentors to create paintings, drawings and even businesses– all of which were presented at a special showcase event in January.

“I am thrilled to share that our outcome was a success,” said Taniah. “My favorite part of working alongside the children was having the opportunity to witness the overwhelming pride on their faces as they stood next to their completed projects at the showcase.”

Taniah is planning on continuing the Better Beings Creative Mentorship Program again soon and looking forward to welcoming more Club members to participate. Thank you, Taniah, for being an outstanding volunteer!

You can keep up with the Better Beings Creative Mentorship Program on Instagram at @betterbeingsproject.

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For many students, the virtual learning environment has been challenging. For others, it’s been nearly impossible.

Students like Ebony, 7, struggle with online classes. She has been attending our Learning Assistance program and is staying on track, but it’s still tough.

“Ebony is very bright and does really well with in-person school,” said her mom, Mariah. “But she has a really hard time with the online learning. I work fulltime and it was so difficult to help her keep up in the spring.”

Thanks to all of the wonderful support from caring donors like you, Ebony has a place to go for the assistance and guidance she needs. With dedicated staff and a structured environment, she is able to attend classes online but also benefit from daily personal help.

“I am so thankful the Boys & Girls Club is offering this option,” Mariah said. “I don’t know what we would do without them.”

Local school officials are equally as grateful for the program. Many educators are at a loss for how to best help students who struggle with online learning. Programs like the Learning Assistance Program help fill in the gaps.

“With the relentless work of our non-profit partners such as the Boys and Girls Club, the learning that continues with those students who attend the Boys and Girls club is absolute gold,” said Rose Charles Maher. “Thank you to the Boys and Girls Club for your unwavering commitment to our families on the West Side.”

Now more than ever, your support is helping our kids navigate these unprecedented times. During this season of thanks, we are forever grateful for our caring community ensuring all of our kids have access to a bright future.

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Sisters Deandra and Naomi walked in to the Paul I. Phillips Club Monday morning with sparkles in their eyes. After being home from school for more than six months, they were excited to be returning to learn in person at our full-day Learning Assistance Program, supported by caring people like you.

“Hi, Miss V!” Deandra shouted through her mask.

Miss V’s eyes smiled as she returned the greeting. “Welcome back!”

Then Miss V noticed neither girl had any belongings with them. No backpacks, no Chromebooks. They must have left them at home, Miss V thought to herself.

“Girls, did you leave your Chromebooks at home? You will need them for your virtual classes.”

Deandra and Naomi looked at each other, confused, then turned back to Miss V. “No,” said Deandra. “We don’t have Chromebooks at home.”

“Well, come on in. I’ll look into this for you and we’ll get you what you need.” Miss V replied.

Miss V contacted their school to ask about the technology. The school hadn’t heard from the girls since school shut down in March. Virtual classes for this school year had begun three weeks prior, and Deandra and Naomi had not yet logged in.

That day, the girls were able to use Chromebooks provided by the generous support of caring donors like you. Staff helped show the girls how to log in, access their classes, and complete their assignments.

Miss V worked to get the girls their school-issued Chromebooks so they were able to work on them at home, too. Although they started out behind, they know they can come to the Club for help getting caught up.

Our donors helped make this story and so many others possible through their dedicated support. Our community has ensured that kids like Deandra and Naomi have the help they need to navigate this new and challenging school year. At a time of uncertainty and chaos, supporters have helped provide a calm, caring and safe place for our members. Thank you, thank you, thank you – from the bottom of our hearts, and theirs.

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Last week, we were finally able to host a revised version of our Be You Wellness Day! Our kids were able to participate in activities meant to improve their health including yoga, cooking, painting and crafts. Each attendee also signed a pledge to take something they learned and put it into practice. Thank you to the Kent County Medical Alliance Society Foundation for their generous support of our Be You Wellness Day!

Photos by: Kymara Stevenson

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