Throughout the nation, Clubs are making tremendous progress and advancing in many ways. This past week, I spent some time with Clubs in Wyoming and Colorado. It was inspiring to see volunteers, staff and community stakeholders come together to advance our mission and fortify the infrastructure for kids at Boys & Girls Clubs.
In Wyoming, the Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne’s Back-a-Kid Breakfast drew a whopping 700 locals, including Gov. Matt Mead and his wife, Carol. A presentation on the new Club under construction was awesome, especially renderings of the new gym and remaining facility. This is a big step for the Club and CEO Rolinda Sample has built a solid strategic plan and engaged the community to provide a better Club experience, deliver more programs and make sure caring staff members are taking care of our kids.
After breakfast, I held a Town Hall Meeting with local Club executives, including Rolinda, Rita Wagner, Holly Slade, Tina Bernard, Trisha Dean from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Peggy Miller, and board volunteer Mary Lou Banks. We discussed opportunities and challenges Clubs face, as well as growth and impact initiatives underway. For example, a new building was secured in the city of Gillette and expansion efforts are underway in Evanston.
Next, it was off to Casper and a dedication ceremony for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming’s All-American Center for Youth. The 22,000-square-foot facility includes an athletic facility and the financial literacy center, “WyoTown.” We met with Jim Owens, Susie and Mick McMurry and other Club and community volunteers to discuss the Code of the West and Cowboy Ethics program, a character-building initiative offered at 25 Clubs in the Southwest that provides moral character development for youth.
Once again, Gov. Mead was on hand. He spoke about the important work Clubs are doing to build a better state and stronger communities and the positive return-on-investment and significant cost savings the state realizes from Club youth development services. Over the past 12 years, CEO Ashley Bright has done a marvelous job and grown the organization ten-fold, with an additional site planned for an elementary school being built next to the Dick and Lynne Cheney Clubhouse.
Ryan Scheel, Kristina Jones and I also visited the Boys & Girls Club of Douglas. We met with the Club’s board and staff to discuss their vision for the future and the strategic planning underway to serve more kids with a greater level of impact. We talked about the Great Futures Plan and the Formula for Impact and how it is being brought to life at Clubs in Douglas. Amy Irene-Sonesen is leading the charge and making a tremendous difference in kids’ lives.
A stop in Fort Collins, Colo., brought together community leaders, including the superintendent of schools, the principal of the charter school connected to the Club, the executive director of United Way and many others. The superintendent told us of the Club's powerful impact on student achievement and plans for additional support and programs in the future.
Club staff are proud of their BMX dirt bike course and provided a demonstration. It truly is a magnet for teens and kids of all ages – including me. I gave it a test run and made it all the way through without a mishap!
It was an impressive few days with a group of forward-looking and advancing organizations focused on creating Great Futures for kids who need us most. The passion of volunteers and community stakeholders was incredible, a testament to the work we do.
As we move into the summer months, many Club dynamics shift, yet it also plac
es emphasis on the need for continued safety and protection of our kids. Thank you for what you do every day to change and save lives while having some fun in the process.