Boys & Girls Club facility proposed for Eastpointe

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 19, 2021

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EASTPOINTE — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan has expressed interest in opening a new facility in Eastpointe to serve the youth of the community.

Executive Area Director Chris Kyles made a presentation about the proposal at the Eastpointe City Council meeting March 16.

“I am very excited about our possible partnership with Eastpointe,” Kyles said. “The Boys & Girls Club is really excited about moving into Eastpointe and Macomb County and serving the youth of this great city.”

He discussed the mission of the Boys & Girls Club and what it could potentially offer local young people.

“In recent years, we’ve reimagined what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan was and what we do,” said Kyles. “The goals for our youth are that when they leave us at 18 (years old), they are career ready, they are startup ready and they are homeowner ready.”

The first step in their plan to implement their goals is to provide access through both in-person and online resources. This means ensuring there are facilities and online resources in place to reach any child who wants to join the Boys & Girls Club and to keep membership at $50 — although no child is turned away — as well as inclusive design so all children can feel welcome.

The second step is safety. This means having facilities reachable to young people; having caring, properly screened and approved adults as instructors, coaches and mentors; and offering social and emotional aid in addition to improving their physical safety and health.

The third step is providing a variety of activities, including a wide range of athletic programs, academic programs and job-training experience. This blends into their fourth step, which is self-efficacy. This is aimed at providing young people with college and career preparation and exposure, offering clubs to encourage interest in different career paths, and partnering with volunteers and local businesses to get kids interested in different kinds of businesses so they can see if they could be a good fit.

Kyles said that, in order to make a new Boys & Girls Club facility a reality, the organization needs to find several resources in a potential community first.

“We usually look for individual champions when we move into a community. These are people who want to see a Boys & Girls Club in that community,” he explained. “We also look for multiple funding sources so we know we can stay in that community, and (preferably) sources which are sustainable. We would set up an advisory board for a new facility; these would be community leaders who want to help support and lead the club.”

He went on to add that funding can be found through a variety of ways, including private funding, local business support, government grants and fundraising efforts by the organization itself.

Kyles added that the organization needs 25 letters of interest from residents voicing their support for a Boys & Girls Club facility before it can move into a community. Residents can ask questions or send such a letter directly to Kyles by emailing him at ckyles@bgcsm.org.

“Community leaders, residents and youths have a major voice about what they would like to see in their community,” he said. “Once we have our resources and finances in place, we move to final approval before the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan’s Board of Directors.”

He added that they have a site in mind for the location of the facility, but because it hasn’t been finalized yet, that location isn’t being made public.

Several members of the Eastpointe City Council voiced their support for such a facility and volunteered to assist at the club if the effort to open it in the community is successful.

“I’m a (Boys & Girls Club) alumni,” said Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens. “I believe this is a good program, and it did a lot of good for me, so I know it can do a lot for our youth.”

“I’m serious about what (Boys & Girls Club) staff are doing,” added Councilman Harvey Curley. “I don’t know if the staff realizes the incredible job they are doing for the future of America. Think about what would happen to these kids if this club didn’t exist.”

“My children have been club kids,” said Councilwoman Sylvia Moore. “It has helped our family in the summertime when I had to work. I could take them to the club, and it has been phenomenal for them.”

Kyles added that there is strong enthusiasm within his organization for an Eastpointe facility, and that as an Eastpointe resident himself, he thinks it would be a great addition to the city.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity, and we think we have some great programming we can bring to the youth of Eastpointe,” he said. “Eastpointe is a great city. I myself am a resident of Eastpointe, my children live in Eastpointe, and I have other family and friends who live in Eastpointe, as well, and they are definitely excited about this.”

He explained his own experiences with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.

“I’ve been with the club 21 years, and I was a club kid myself,” said Kyles. “My children are club kids. Our staff is young and innovative, and they love the youth. … We’re challenging our kids to become successful adults. We have a whole dynamic group of 14- to 18-year-olds who are going to be our next wave of professionals. We’re excited.”

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