A vision for the future

Hoboken Boys & Girls Club unveils plans for outreach, programs, more kids

Last month the Hoboken Boys & Girls Club’s Executive Director Gary Greenberg announced the club’s startegic plan to increase enrollmenet and improve their programming by 2020.

The Hoboken Boys & Girls Club, a local nonprofit that serves the city’s youth, unveiled their new strategic plan, called Vision 20/20, last month. Organizers hope to offer more programming, get more of the community involved, and ultimately enroll more children in their activities.

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The club is located at 123 Jefferson St. It provides after-school programs and runs a low-cost summer camp.

The club’s stated mission is “to help young people, especially those who need us most, build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders.”

Vision 20/20

Executive Director Gary Greenberg said Vision 20/20 is based on the national Boys & Girls Club’s initiative Great Futures 2025, which “assures the success of each member but also that all members are on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future.”

He said in order to comply, they’ve already hired a new program director, Judy Desilets, who has a master’s degree in education and strong community roots, as she grew up a few doors from the club.

The club has begun to offer more programs focused on science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects for all age groups, with hands-on tools like K’nex and Legos, as well as computer coding.

“Coding will become their alphabet,” said Greenberg. “We have to help prepare them to use it.”

The club runs after-school programs each weekday from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  They also are open on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. These programs are offered free or at a low cost, depending on the household’s annual gross income.

“If we are going to reach more kids, we have to get people back to the building, and that’s where it starts,” said Greenberg, who added that by 2020 they hope to increase membership to at least 140 members. Currently, they reach about 70 kids daily, ages 5 to 18.

“140 kids a day, that would be awesome,” said Greenberg. “Too many kids would be a good problem to have.”

In order to enroll, interested families must fill out an application which includes the child’s information, medical history,  and annual gross household income form. He said members of the community know about the club through word of mouth and through partnerships with local organizations and businesses. Some find out through social media. But most of the members end up coming from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Greenberg said the Hoboken Boys & Girls Club is working with Hoboken High School to try and hire some of their students to work or volunteer at the club.

The club has also begun to partner more with local businesses and organizations to give kids hands-on learning experiences. Local restaurants like Antique Bakery have opened their doors to teach cooking classes. Geek Squad Academy and Best Buy helped run a tech camp this past summer. The Stevens Institute of Technology has also been helping out.

“Our kids are forming relationships and meeting people that can be examples,” Greenberg said. “It gives them the chance to see what’s out there.”

He added that they plan to have literature about their after-school programs go home with students at all the schools as well as hand out flyers to help inform families.

Bringing back the bus

One way the club hopes to reach more members is by having a bus that will be able to help pick up and drop off kids, ensuring that living somewhere else in Hoboken isn’t a deterrent for entering the club.

“We will be able to reach kids in the northern parts of town, like students at Wallace, and certainly all the public housing sites,” said Greenberg.

He said they hope to be able to reach all the schools in town not just the public ones but said that they will design a route based on where most of the club members would be coming from.

The club used to have a bus, but it was destroyed in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy and insurance didn’t cover the cost of getting a new one.

According to Greenberg, a New England company that wishes to remain anonymous secured a grant that has purchased them a new bus.

The free bus will have air-conditioning and 54 seats and should be available in the next few weeks.

To learn more about the Hoboken Boys & Girls Club or to donate go to http://www.bgchc.org/giving

Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com or comment online at hudsonreporter.com


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