Delavan-Darien Boys & Girls Club group hits fundraising milestone
Want to help establish the Boys & Girls Club of Walworth County? Checks can be made out to the organization and sent to Boys & Girls Club, P.O. Box 158, Delavan, WI 53115.
Those hoping to open a Boys & Girls Club for kids in Delavan and Darien have raised about 25 percent of the $200,000 needed.
"It's difficult to ask people to invest in something that's not tangible," Ashley Contreras said.
She is the community outreach coordinator for the Delavan-Darien School District and is among those working to raise money for the effort.
Contreras believes a Boys & Girls Club would increase graduation rates and decrease juvenile delinquency. It's also would be good way to provide kids with something to do in that nebulous, "there's-nothing to do" time between the end of school and when Mom and Dad come home, she said.
"In order to have a club, the national Boys & Girls organization says you have to meet one of three requirements," Contreras said. "We met all three."
"You have a certain number of children living in poverty, you have to have a certain rate of juvenile delinquency—of adjudicated juveniles—and you have to show that the needs are not already being met in the community," Contreras said.
Contreras moved from Madison to Delavan in 2007.
"I was blown away by the lack of after-school activities," Contreras said.
A middle school administrator told her that kids wanted to "hang out at school" well into the late afternoon hours. They just had no place to go to be together.
Although clubs are open to all school-age students, Contreras said that she and the Walworth County Boys & Girls Club advisory board hope to target middle school students.
The national organization requires startups to raise 18 months of operating expenses before it awards a charter to a new club.
She was surprised to find that many people didn't know what a club would provide.
Contreras describes it as a place where young people would find support, guidance, care and something to do—all in a structured and supervised environment.
"It's been proven," Contreras said. "When a Boys & Girls Club comes into a community, graduation rates go up, and juvenile delinquency and juvenile crime goes down."
Kids are desperate for "guidance and direction," she said.
"We've got to start investing in the future of our community," Contreras said.