If you are among those who believe the Boys & Girls Club is basically a day-care program, a visit to one of the Golden Triangle Boys & Girls Clubs will quickly alter that notion.
It’s true that for many, perhaps most, of the hundreds of kids who are members, the clubs in Columbus, Starkville and West Point are a place where children can go after school while their parents are still at work.
It is also true that at times the clubs almost brim over with the collective energy of so large a collection of kids.
But those factors are merely the veneer. Spend an afternoon at the club and you will leave knowing that these clubs serve some of our area’s most vulnerable students in ways that build character, advance learning and foster good habits and relationships. It’s a safe and healthy environment for children who might otherwise be left to their own devices were it not for the club.
When the students arrive each day, the first thing they do is get a snack then tackle their homework, with staff offering help if needed. No student leaves the club without having finished that chore. For some, the club represents the only exposure to learning they will have outside the classroom itself.
All three clubs offer snacks, while in Columbus, the students are provided an evening meal prepared in the club’s kitchen.
Their day is filled with play time, programs and opportunities to grow in a variety of ways.
The club has proven so successful, that there are almost as many kids on the club’s waiting list as there are in their membership.
To address that demand, the Boys & Girls Club of the Golden Triangle has launched a fund-raising campaign, hoping to raise more than $1 million to build new facilities in Starkville and West Point, which will include a kitchen so members there can have meals as they do in Columbus.
More than a year into the effort, the clubs have managed to raise just $85,000, which is why club director Nadia Colom is seeking help from local governments.
On Monday, Colom asked the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to help the club by applying for a Community Development Block Grant, a request the supervisors approved unanimously and with obvious enthusiasm.
We urge every citizen in the Golden Triangle to join in the club’s fund-raising efforts.
One visit would be enough to assure anyone that this is a cause worthy of our support.