During the summer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix (BGCMP) offers summer camp at its 13 locations across the Valley, giving kids the chance to meet new friends, learn different skills and participate in sporting activities. Because BGCMP is a nonprofit organization, they rely heavily on community support.
With that in mind, Twin Peaks Restaurants will host a sports equipment drive for BGCMP at its three Valley locations through August 2. If you bring in any new sports equipment, including basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes and footballs, you will receive a $5 gift card to the restaurant that can be used in the future.
PHOENIX magazine recently caught up with Jill H. Johnson, BGCMP director of strategic partnerships, to learn more about the work of this Valley nonprofit.
Q: Who attends your summer programming?
A: Our summer programming is open to all youth ages 6-18. Our 13 clubs are located around the Valley, in Phoenix, Glendale, Avondale and Peoria. Many of our students come right from the neighborhoods we serve, from local schools and some parents find clubs near their work. We offer so many great outings and field trips, theme weeks and competitions – all of your favorite parts of summer camp.
Q: Why is sports programming important for the boys and girls that you serve?
A: Every club offers sports and fitness programming every day, through summer and after school. We make sports and recreation fun for the kids and make sure they are getting time inside and outside for physical activity. Unfortunately, many schools are having to cut these programs but for Boys & Girls Clubs, this is an integral part of our program where we teach youth about healthy living, good choices and sportsmanship. We also offer team sports and competitive leagues. Parents tell us that this is the only way they can afford to have their kids in competitive sports. It can be very expensive for students to participate in club or school teams, and at our clubs, we make sure that fees are never a barrier to youth playing sports.
Q: What kind of impact can BGCMP have on children who attend your programming?
A: We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help our members succeed. There’s homework help every day, sports and arts programs, access to leading-edge technology and so much more. Our members are building friendships, making memories and learning to be responsible caring adults. As they grow, we have ways for them to volunteer. They can participate in paid internship programs, tour local businesses to learn about careers, and take part in academic and sports programming to build their skills. Boys & Girls Clubs is helping to build strong, resilient kids who are ready for the future.
Q: What can community members do to help support BGCMP?
A: There are so many ways to help the 10,000+ members and our Clubs. We love having volunteers come and work in the clubs for one day as part of a service project or as a team, or you can coach a team or mentor kids. Twin Peaks is running an awesome program to help us gather athletic equipment for the 13 clubs. We go through a lot of equipment with 250 kids a day using basketballs, baseballs, dodgeballs and other gear every day for 8-10 hours a day. Or you can donate to BGCMP online and we will ensure your dollars find their way directly into the clubs. We are a four-star-rated charity on Charity Navigator!
Q: Do you have a success story that you can share?
A: Our members achieve success in so many different ways. Here’s a few quick ones: Rolando, a member for more than 10 years, graduated last year with a 4.0 GPA and he earned an Obama Scholarship to Arizona State University, where he plans to study engineering. He’s one of eight kids in a single parent household and he will be the first in his family to attend college. When the Robson Club opened years ago, Maria was one of the first kids who signed up to be a member. Now she’s a junior and is planning to be the first in her family to graduate high school and then attend college. She’s active in Keystone where she’s volunteered hundreds of hours in her community and she’s committed to staying away from the negative influences that are so pervasive in her community. These students call the club their second home because they know they are safe there and have staff and friends who care about them and their future.
Q: What would you like others to know about your organization?
A: Boys & Girls Clubs change the fabric of the communities they serve. Neighborhoods are safer and more stable because of clubs. Our members donate thousands of service hours to improve their communities. We serve more than 350,000 meals to members each year. Our students can enjoy a hot, nutritious dinner every night at the club and we stay open late so parents can work, knowing their kids are safe. We are one of the largest food providers in the state and we are fortunate to have donors who make all of this possible!