The ongoing mission of the Boys & Girls Club of White County “is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.” In order to fulfill their mission, the Boys & Girls Club provides youth development programs to over 600 members in the White County area during non-school hours. The Club prides itself on providing a safe place for children to develop character, citizenship, healthy lifestyle habits, and academic success with the help from compassionate adult mentors.
However, as a very traditional hands-on personal service, the Club has been recently tasked with restructuring the format and delivery of their materials in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to an attentive staff, the switch wasn’t too difficult.
“Switching to online programming was not without its hiccups, but it was as smooth as any other new programming we have implemented. We have a very forward thinking staff that is very flexible. They really stepped up to the challenge,” said Unit Director Dan Fry.
At the start of the pandemic, the Club was strictly using social media for online programming and communications with kids and their families, but recently they decided
that by also using a website for these communications they could possibly reach people more easily.
“We think it will be easier to channel people to our website via social media than it is to post on several social media sites,” stated Fry.
Along with this website creation and maintenance, the Club also decided they would need to create and distribute “Club at Home” packets to students in order to provide them with the necessary materials and supplies they would need to complete their online activities.
However, the maintenance of the website and the creation and distribution of the “Club at Home” packets would run into even more extra expense that the Club did not originally plan for. It became clear very quickly that the Boys & Girls Club of White County would need to find additional financial assistance from an outside source.
Thankfully, non-profit philanthropy organizations like the White County United Way exist to help organizations in difficult times such as this. Funding is made possible through the Economic Relief Initiative Grant, sponsored by Indiana United Ways, partnering with Lilly Endowment, Inc. The Community Relief Fund is managed through the White County United Way in partnership with the Community Foundation of White County, the Jasper Newton Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Pulaski County. The fund allows money to be distributed to various non-profit organizations in White, Pulaski, and Jasper counties that need additional financial assistance for programming during the pandemic.
The funds from the Community Relief Fund provided the Boys & Girls Club of White County with money to create, launch, and maintain their website and create and distribute their “Club at Home” packets.
“The feedback we got, from the families that participated in our "Club at Home" packets, was all positive. We had one family that couldn't wait until we put a new packet out each week. They loved the projects and normally did everything in the packet the first day they got it. Overall, everyone really enjoyed seeing our staff in the video tutorials for each project in the packet, and our staff really embraced filming the virtual club programming videos,” said Fry.
In partnership with the Twin Lakes Food Pantry, Monticello United Methodist Church, and the Public Library, the Club has distributed close to 400 “Club at Home” packets to date.
“Without the White County United Way's funding, we would not have been able to start our site, period. The funds just weren't there to allocate to that sort of project. The funds for our Club at Home packets were also a huge help. We were able to offer fun, imaginative projects without worrying about where to find the funding to purchase the supplies,” explained Fry.
Although the Boys & Girls Club of White County has faced many different challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were willing and prepared to make any changes that they needed to in order to continue to provide their services efficiently.
Jordan Day has been with the United Way since May 2020, and is currently working as a Social Media Consultant for WCUW.