Boys & Girls Club of Troy opens doors for summer

‘I’m hearing, as a business owner, about the need for child care’

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published July 21, 2020

 Abigail Schadel creates Skittles art as part of the science, technology, engineering, art and math program at the Boys and Girls Club of Troy July 9.

Abigail Schadel creates Skittles art as part of the science, technology, engineering, art and math program at the Boys and Girls Club of Troy July 9.

Photo provided by the Boys and Girls Club of Troy

Advertisement

TROY — Other summers, the Boys & Girls Club of Troy opened its doors to 300 kids each day, with a membership of about 500.

In the midst of the pandemic, following Oakland County Health Department guidelines, the Boys & Girls Club opened in mid-June to serve about 75 kids, with capacity to serve up to 120 children ages 6-12.

Jeff Evans, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Troy, explained that revenue from summer registrations allows the club to stay open after school during the school year.

“There’s such a necessity for people to get back to work,” Evans said. “We’re trying to keep our doors open. It’s important for the community to know what we are doing. We need to be there for our families. We need to be open.”

Evans said the club serves 40 different metro Detroit communities during the summer.

“We want to help kids get through this the best we can. It’s so important for the community to have (child care) options. We’re open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m, so people can get to their job.”

Evans said the cost is about $100 per week, per child. The summer program will run through Aug. 21.

“Summer camp revenue is a huge part of our yearly budget; with the diminished revenue from our summer program and golf outings, we will be out well over 50% of our total budget,” states a press release from the Boys & Girls Club of Troy.

After children are dropped off and before they enter, their temperature is taken and they answer a series of questions. Employees’ temperatures are also taken each day.

“We’re making it as safe as possible,” Evans said. “It’s been really good so far.”

“Our children are all cooperating; our parents are all cooperating,” said Nancy Negohosian, the board president of the Boys & Girls Club and the president of HMS Products Co., based in Troy.

This is her third year serving as the president of the board and the 16th year she’s volunteered her time for the Boys & Girls Club of Troy.

She said the kids who come back to the club get a sense of normalcy.

“They renew friendships they have every summer,” she said. “The club is something they can count on.”

She said the staff turnover is always low.

“They (staff) greet every child by name and with a conversation starter each day,” she said.

Negohosian said the ratio this summer of staff member per child — 1 to 8 — is much lower than previous summers, when it was 1 to 20.

This year’s summer program started out offering the basics and has expanded to include physical education, games and art.

“It’s different than a child staying at home, looking at their iPad and trying to do school,” she said.

This year’s summer program also features science, technology, engineering, art and math programs developed by a former STEM  teacher who completed NASA-sponsored training to develop learning and activity modules. The club sought and received grant funding for this.

“The board is working really hard to get donations (going forward),” Negohosian said. “It’s hard to go to businesses to get donations (in uncertain times).

“The Boys & Girls Club is needed in the community. I’m hearing, as a business owner, about the need for child care. We fill a gap in the community. It would be a hardship if it had to close.”

 

A parent weighs in
Shanise Bell, the associate vice president of business transformation for Health Alliance Plan of Michigan, said her two children attend the club this summer.

“I have two different children with two very different temperaments,” Bell said via email. “I have one child, Priyah, 7, that loves the down time and the ability to sit and connect with her friends. This can be in the form of drawing in the art room or playing a game of Uno.

“My other child, Nylah, 9, is excited for all of the athletics and activity that they bake into the rotations. Soccer, capture the flag, and other outdoor running games have kept her happy and build comradery that could not be achieved at home indoors for the summer.

“I love that I feel my children are safe but they are also getting lots of fresh air and exercise,” she said. “In those initial days and weeks of the stay at home order, my children quickly went from being very active to being ‘bored’ with doing the same thing at home every day. It was really hard for me to motivate them to exercise for very long. Now they are active, getting healthier, making friends and coming home ready for some quiet time (which mom and dad aren’t complaining about).

“My husband and I were very pleased to see the robust safety measures that are in place at the club. Although it may now take longer to dropoff/pickup my child each day, the peace of mind is worth it,” Bell said. “That time is being used to temperature screen every child, implement screening questions, and have each child personally retrieved by staff to avoid parents from increasing traffic into the building. They wash their hands when transitioning from every station and have told me that they feel very safe at the program.

“I know it was a very difficult call to make to move forward with the program in the midst of all the turmoil and misinformation about reopening plans for the state,” she said. “The community is benefiting from their support because there were no other options for child care for essential workers. My hope is that many of these changes are long-living because they truly made it a better program overall.”

For information on the Boys & Girls Club of Troy or to donate, visit bgctroy.org or call (248) 689-1687.

Advertisement