United Way Presents: Boys and Girls Club inspires youth

Published 6:45 am Saturday, October 30, 2021

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By Dawn Burleigh

(Editor’s Note: This is part 8 of a 21-part series on the partners of United Way of Orange County.)

For over 50 years, The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs have been unique places created by The Salvation Army that offer programs and services that exemplify and actively practice Christian principles. This is done in a way that causes recipients of its services to learn to admire the values, ethics and skills presented, and incorporate them into their own lives. To reach today’s young people and their families in a non-threatening way, Boys and Girls Clubs create an accepting, positive and challenging environment where young people of every background, circumstance, race, creed and religion feel welcomed.

As part of the Salvation Army’s family and services, this program is offered to the poorest and neediest among us. It is for this reason that The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs are so vital to The Salvation Army’s mission and ministry.

The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Clubs and the Boys and Girls Club Organizations are both designed to serve the local needs of children in the communities in which they operate, and both are chartered by Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Being chartered by Boys and Girls Clubs of America, both meet the membership requirements and standards of operation of the national organization, and share a common philosophy of youth development strategies and techniques. In addition, both take advantage of the many programs and services offered by Boys and Girls Clubs of America to its local affiliates

Although The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs are, in most ways, similar to regular Boys and Girls Club organizations they, nonetheless, are distinctly unique.

The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs have the advantage of being part of two of the most effective and trusted national nonprofit organizations in the world; thereby, benefiting from the vast experience and mission of both of these great movements. Further, as a Christian organization, The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs offer programs and services that emulate Christian principles.

“United Way funding has a significant impact in the general operations of the club,” Captain Jan Zuniga said. “It allows us to offer this service at a low cost to families.”

Without the grants from United Way, the cost for programs offered through the Boys and Girls Club would be higher to help cover operating costs.

“We serve 50 kids with our programs on average,” Zuniga said concerning after school programs offered. “During COVID, we reached out to the community to meet the needs of the kids.”

The Captains and staff drove through neighborhoods to hand out activity and art kits to the children in their programs as the country was shut down.

“We handed out the kits and food bags to new kids as well, not just members of the club,” Zuniga said. “We reached children we could not reach before.”

The kits were made possible through grants from United Way.

“Our partnership with United Way makes such an impact on the community,” Zuniga said.

Boys and Girls Club also offers different levels as Adventure Corps: Explorer (Grades 1-5) and Ranger (Grades 6-12) Programs. Girls Character Building: Sunbeam (Grades 1-5) and Guard (Grades 6-12) Programs and Club 316 (all grades).

It focuses on education and career development, character and leadership development, health and life skills, the arts, and sports and recreation.

These programs are a holistic Christian Education experience. Salvation Army’s goal is to help children develop social and communication habits, decision making and life skills, character, and leadership in a balanced environment for learning, developing, and caring that is age-appropriate and Christ-centered.

As well as offering church services on Sunday. For more information on times for services, call 409-291-8400.

To make a donation to United Way of Orange County, visit https://www.uwoctx.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1