At the Boys and Girls Club, enriching activities serve local youth | SteamboatToday.com

At the Boys and Girls Club, enriching activities serve local youth

Community support helps this nonprofit serve 1,700 Yampa Valley youth per year

Written by Lauren Glendenning

Brought to you by Four Star Auto Repair and Yampa Valley Tire Pros

Every day, more than 200 students in the Yampa Valley participate in life-enriching after-school activities at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Craig and Steamboat Springs, all thanks to generous support from the community.

The clubs currently serve half of all children in the valley ages 6 to 14 at some point throughout the year. Physical exercise, help with homework, games or reading time are some of the activities kids can find at the clubs, which operate Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

With a mission to enable the community's young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens, these clubs offer so much more than a place to kill time after school.

"We're just trying to teach them how to be really good members of the community," said Celina Taylor, Director of Development at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado, which includes Steamboat and Craig. "We want to raise kids to take care of their bodies and their health and teach them how to figure out how to be successful in anything they want to pursue academically, and teach them how to be good people and good contributors to society."

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That mission is precisely what has drawn husband-wife business owners Jeremy Behling and Sarah Fox — owners of Yampa Valley Tire Pros, Four Star Auto Repair and Fox Construction — to donate to the Boys and Girls Clubs and other nonprofits that work toward benefiting the community as a whole.

"Sarah and I continue to define what we want our role as community members to be as small business owners, we continually come back to wanting to be active participants in building a better community," Behling said.

Safe, educational environment

Research shows that children who are involved in afterschool activities have less time to get into trouble. Children who have a sense of belonging also do better in school, according to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

But in a valley where the cost of living is so comparatively high to other areas in Colorado, Behling said finding affordable options for kids is tough on families.

"For most families, a dual income is needed in order to continue to live in and around Steamboat," he said. "The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe and educational environment for kids to go to. … If we as a community are not able to support our young families and their needs we will quickly find ourselves living in a place that does not resemble the community that we all live here for."

A nominal membership fee of $25 per year is all parents pay to send their children to the clubs. This includes a school bus ride to the clubs for many students, and programming such as Nature Club, Community Action, Healthy Habits, Book Club, World View, Music Makers, Fun Fitness, Game Tech and Photo Tech.

Every day, kids receive a healthy snack at the clubs. Then, they participate in 45-minute blocks of activities, which always include a physical fitness activity such as dodgeball.

With academics, kids can get help with their homework or use one of the clubs' lab computers to complete school assignments. And finally, programs that focus on character and leadership development, such as bully prevention education, empowers the kids to excel as friends, students and community members.

Summertime offerings include daily summer camps where kids can swim, play in the arcade, bowl, go on hikes, bike rides, go on field trips and more. There's no pre-registration required, and kids can attend the camp as often as they'd like for however many hours a day their families choose — camp is available five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The charge for summer camp is $1 per hour, but scholarships are available for families who need help with the tuition.

"Our intent is to serve everyone who wants to come here," Taylor said.

Community support

Because $25 per year isn't nearly enough to cover the costs of serving so many of the valley's youth, the Boys and Girls Club relies on contributions from the community. Taylor said the community is lucky to not only have so many great nonprofits serving it, but also to have such generous community donors.

In addition to financial contributions, the club takes donations such as pool tables, bicycles, board games, books and sport equipment, among other items.

Many community members also donate time by volunteering with the children, or local cyclists who have come in to make sure all of the donated bikes were in working mechanical order.

"I feel really lucky to be part of this community," Taylor said.

That's how Behling and Fox feel, too. And it's their goal to help bring attention to various nonprofits this year in order to foster even more community support. It's why they're donating funds from Four Star, Yampa Valley Tire Pros and Fox Construction to help advance the mission of the Boys and Girls Club and other nonprofits this year through print, radio, TV and digital media marketing.

"For Sarah and I, we live here because of the rich community that makes up Steamboat. That sense of community has been fostered by many great people and organizations before us," Behling said. "We believe that it is our duty to help carry on the sense of community that so many of us live here for by supporting other small businesses by buying local or by donating back to the amazing nonprofits of Steamboat. People helping people."