What once started as an idea, the Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County has become a reality. For new executive director Josie Luke, the sky is the limit.
Although Luke has been on the job for less than a month, she has hit the ground running and is ready to make a difference in the lives of local youth. “This is a unique and special opportunity to be a mentor and provide an example to kids,” she stated. “We are normal people who can do big things.”
The Boys and Girls Club of America has a long history of mentoring youth. The national organization began in 1860 by a group of women. For a long time, only boys were allowed to join in what was once known as Boys Clubs of America. In 1990, everything changed when girls were allowed to join and the name changed to what it is today.
Although the Carbon County club has only been in existence since February 2011, great advancements have been made in a short period of time. The club was once housed in a small room at Mont Harmon Junior High. Through community donations and support, the organization now has a place to call their own. Located at 130 North 200 East in Price, the club serves as a refuge for junior high and high school aged students five days a week.
“There seems to be a misconception as to who can come here,” Luke indicated. “Any teen-aged student can visit. This is a community center. We facilitate a place where they can hang out and have a good time.”
Currently, 22 members are signed up with the club. Luke hopes this number will climb as students become aware of services and activities the Boys and Girls Club provides. The facility operates Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. and transportation is also available through the organization.
Teen program director Kelsey Meno provides club members with learning and social activities. She ensures that homework is taken care of daily. “We have volunteers come in and offer tutoring to the students,” she explained. “We also make sure the kids enjoy a snack after school. We even have a volunteer who offers guitar lessons to anyone interested.”
Regular activities are part of the program as well. Meno focuses on healthy lifestyles, cultural awareness and cooking to name a few. Exposing children to new things and involving them in local events are ways that Meno and Luke feel that club members can give back and become part of the community. “We give them the opportunity to help people and the community,” Luke stated. “At the same time, we let them know that people do care.”
Club members have been working on posters and goody bags for the upcoming Southeastern Utah District Health Department’s Kick Ash 5K/10K Run. The event will take place March 22 and club members will be on hand encouraging participants along the route.
The Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County will host their own community event on March 24. An American Red Cross blood drive will take place at the club facility between 2-6 p.m. Citizens are encouraged to participate and even those who do not wish to donate blood are welcome to the club’s open house during these hours. The event is part of the National Boys and Girls Club Week, which runs March 23-29. “These kids want to do more in the community,” Luke said. “This is a way for them to do so.”
The mission of the Boys and Girls club is “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” As the new director of the local club, Luke takes this mission seriously. “This is a simple avenue to make a big difference quickly,” she concluded. “I look forward to making a difference in the life of a child.”