Lauren is 7 years old and it’s her first day at the Paul I. Phillips Club. She doesn’t know anyone, and isn’t sure what to do. Staff members show her around the club and introduce her to many club members. She is so shy that she can barely say “hello”. Lauren tries the Games Room, the Gym, and the Learning Center. None of the program areas were interesting to her. Finally, we take her to the Art Room, where we think she might find something she likes to do. Instead, Lauren puts her coat on because she’s shivering, and puts her head down at the table and begins to sleep. Unsure how to help, we call her mother, and her mother picks her up.
The next day, we focus on her and make sure she is exposed to plenty of fun. How can we help her come out of her shell? Staff introduce her to several volunteers. Our volunteers show her a few team building games. Lauren enjoys herself, but she is still quiet and has not smiled yet. The next time we see her at the Club, she gets her picture put up on the wall of the Cadet Game Room for winning the Twister tournament of the day. Her entire disposition has done a 180. She greets staff members by name with a huge smile lit up on her face. She participates in every activity with her age group. What has changed? Club member Araya approaches her and gives her a hug. “That’s my best friend!” she says about Lauren. Araya and her sister A’micka have begun to include Lauren in all of the things that they do. They even added her in their Winter Concert dance performance!
It is easy to see that Lauren feels like she belongs here with new friends, a team of staff members, as well as volunteers who care about her. At the Boys & Girls Club, it’s our duty to make sure a child in the community never falls through the cracks. At the clubs, it’s possible for each club member to find a friend or a staff member who can scoop them up and lift them higher than where they thought they could go. What kids might not be getting at home or school, whether it’s a positive adult or a caring friend, or even someone to notice them, they have a chance to get that here.