By Debbie Adams
Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA (BGCSWVA) has received notification of a new grant award from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) totaling over $786,000 per year for three years to run after-school and summer programs in Roanoke County and Salem.
Boys & Girls Club CEO Michelle Davis says “VDOE has approved applications for Title IV, Part B, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grants submitted for Andrew Lewis Middle School, Burlington Elementary School, East Salem Elementary School and G.W. Carver Elementary School, Herman L. Horn Elementary School and W.E. Cundiff Elementary School.”
The 21st CCLC grant is a three-year grant with annual continuation awards. The grant period for the first-year award is July 1, 2021, through August 31, 2022. With these funds, BGCSWVA will open new after-school and summer camp programs on-site at the following locations: Andrew Lewis Middle School, East Salem Elementary School, G.W. Carver Elementary School, Burlington Elementary School, and Vinton Baptist Church serving Herman L. Horn Elementary and W.E. Cundiff Elementary.
Rebekah Meadows, BGCSWVA’s Director of Programs said, “School shutdowns during COVID necessitated strong partnerships with our local school districts like Roanoke County to get kids back to school and parents back to work. We are proud to continue our partnership with Roanoke County, and form a new collaboration with Salem City Schools, to provide accessible after-school and summer care for more kids in our region.”
In a recent email, Dr. Ken Nicely, Superintendent of Roanoke County Schools, stated, “We are very grateful to Boys & Girls Clubs for finding a solution to meet the after-school needs of students and families served by these three elementary schools [Burlington, Horn, and Cundiff]. These new programs will make a real difference in the lives of these students and families and support their academic and social-emotional learning.”
Dr. Curtis Hicks, Assistant Superintendent of Salem City Schools said, “The Salem City School Division is excited to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia to create an active after-school learning environment for more of our students. This free program will support academic, physical, social, and emotional growth and development for students and support families by providing after-school care and meals. We have no doubt that this program will help our school division ensure higher levels of growth and achievement for our students while providing a service to our community.”
New programs are scheduled to begin the week of October 4. Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA is currently hiring for over 64 full and part-time positions, including hiring current school teachers at each school to work as tutors. Additional needs include part-time and full-time youth development staff at each location.
Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA is a 501c3 non-profit serving in Roanoke and Salem cities, and Franklin, Montgomery, and Roanoke counties.
BGCSWVA serves children ages 6-18 and provides youth development programming focused on academic achievement, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship. Programs are low cost or free and operate both after school and during the summer months.
For more information on how Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA changes the future for hundreds of youth in our region each day, please visit their website at www.bgcswva.org or call their office at 540-904-7401.
Travis Russell, Senior Pastor at Vinton Baptist, said, “On Sunday, March 28 of last spring, after hearing from Michelle Davis, CEO of Boys and Girls Club SWVA, Vinton Baptist unanimously voted to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia once again as a site for one of their afterschool programs.”
“Many may remember that our church partnered with the Boys and Girls Club during the fall of 2020 as a site for virtual learning for the Roanoke County School District. This gave parents a safe place for their children to go on the days their children could not be physically at school. Once most elementary school students were allowed to go back to school for in-person learning, the Boys and Girls Club no longer needed our church to provide a virtual learning space for students. However, over the course of our time together, the Boys & Girls Club discovered the need for an afterschool program for the elementary schools in Vinton.”
“In response, our church was contacted and given the opportunity to be the new site for this needed ministry in our community,” Russell said. “Thankfully, after months of anticipation, we have received confirmation that beginning October 4, Vinton Baptist will host between 12-15 children from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. During those hours, a portion of our facility will be designated for the children and adults of this ministry. The Boys and Girls Club will provide the staff for an 8:1 ratio of children for each adult.”
“I am so excited for this new partnership to begin, and the opportunity it provides our church to reach out to the children and families of our community and provide such an important ministry. As I noted during our first partnership, I think this is what Jesus meant when he said: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).’ I cannot think of a better way to ‘let our light shine’ in our community than by providing a safe space for the children of Vinton to come after school to learn, play, and grow.”
“Unfortunately, the uncertainty of COVID-19 remains,” Russell said. “Due to the emergence of the Delta variant, we are still wading through the waters of a global pandemic that will not go away quietly. We are still trying to cope with our losses and adapt to the many ways this virus has changed our society, both temporarily and permanently. We are still trying to mend fences and heal from all of the division this unprecedented time has created. As the darkness of COVID-19 lingers, rather than wishing it would end or things would return back to the way they were, may we look for ways to share the love and be the light of Christ. I believe partnering with the Boys and Girls Club is one such opportunity. As we welcome them back to Vinton Baptist and continue to serve our church and community in a number of ways, may we put our light on a lampstand for all to see. May we do our best to fill our world with the hope and promise of the one who is ‘the light of life.’ For we are assured that he was, is, and always will be, the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”