Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces: Offering Advocacy and Support for Today's Youth
By Charlotte Tallman
Mike was a constant fixture at the Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces as a child, heading over to the club after school and during holidays and summer. He was helpful and personable. At one point he was nominated to participate in Junior Staff, a club program that assists students in exploring a career focused on youth or human services. The program allows youth to participate in career development activities, discover the importance of community service and build customer service skills. Mike was a good fit and the staff at the Boys and Girls Club had high hopes for Mike.
When Mike entered middle school, times became tough. At the club he was as helpful as ever, but on the streets he had turned to gangs and violence - something he felt was a form of protection from being picked on for his small frame.
When Mike was suspended from school, and his family turned to the club for help, the Boys and Girls Club began to get a glimpse of his double life and took immediate action. Together with his family, the Boys and Girls Club allowed Mike to volunteer at the club while he was suspended in an attempt to keep him off the streets. While Mike worked at the club on tasks like painting and cleaning the bathrooms, the staff took the opportunity to speak to Mike about the direction his life was going in. They also spent a great deal of time encouraging him, and letting him know they believed he could make the right choices with the support of people who cared for him.
Because of his suspension, Mike was to be sent to an alternative school, but the staff at the Boys and Girls Club felt the environment could hinder his learning and inadvertently contribute to continued gang participation. In an effort to intervene on Mike's behalf, club administration and staff spent time meeting with school officials and law enforcement authorities on alternative measures.
Because of the intervention, Mike found the strength to quit the gang, enroll in regular schooling and is one step closer to graduation. Instead of spending his time on the streets, Mike is involved in sports and becoming the best he can be. Through it all, the Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces has stood by his side with support.
For Mike, the support was life-changing.
The Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces is an activities club for boys and girls between six and 18-years-old. A chartered member of the national Boys and Girls Club of America since 1965, the club offers after-school and summer programs at three locations. Services include programs focused on art, music, sports and character building in a positive environment. A ‘power hour' allows students to work on homework with tutors and a separate teen center has computers and desks with personal space for older students.
With a budget of $250,000, the club is constantly looking for financial stability, like many non-profits. Throughout the nation, 100,000 nonprofit organizations will shut their doors within a year due to the current economic crisis. With decreases in funding and increases in individuals who need services, both the nonprofits and the people they serve are hurting.
One way the Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces finds financial stability is through an endowment with the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico (CFSNM). The CFSNM serves as a leader able to bring together groups of people who can improve the quality of life for individuals throughout the community like the Boys and Girls Club while providing fiscal support and administration advice. As a leader, the CFSNM manages 30 endowments for nonprofit agencies within Southern New Mexico.
The Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces: The positive place for kids
330 W. Las Cruces Ave.
Las Cruces, NM