Yes, it's true. We missed the big public unveil over the weekend at the new home of the Boys and Girls Club of Muskegon. BUT! We traded a Saturday deadline for a very comprehensive discussion and tour of what's to come of the old YMCA, or Lakeshore Fitness Center or whatever name it's been under in the past to add to the future of the lives of literally thousands of kids in the Muskegon Area for decades to come. We'll take that swap.
We had a chance to meet one on one with Executive Director Dakota Crow to discuss how this all began in Muskegon 5 years ago or so. 30 kids were the initial group of early adaptors to all the Boys and Girls Club offers. Everything from an afternoon snack after school to a complete meal before they go home. A chance to have a stable and safe place to do day after day if they choose and also, a place where an environment is built that helps kids in ways like respite, mentorship and impactful opportunities to Muskegon County Youth. Don't be mistaken, there are still arms of the Boys and Girls Club out stretched to almost every corner of the county for kids to take advantage of, but as progress completes, there will be a "magnet space" for them to come and enjoy filled with ample chances at anything from personal quiet space to Lego Robotics, a STEM Lab and even opportunities which will be incredibly unique to Muskegon like kayaking on Muskegon Lake right out the back door. It's a huge component of all the work that the Boys and Girls club has been working on from the basement of a school and one that deserves the attention because of the overwhelming growth of the club.
From the Boys and Girls Club website "From those original 30 members in 2015, membership has soared to over 1400 youth. BGCML is now serving 460 kids a day in the summer, and an average of 132 a day during the school year. In 2018, BGCML served over 50,000 meals and snacks to these youth. The organization is looking forward to continued sustainability and growth, providing a network of Club sites right in the neighborhoods of the youth who need us most." The final number alone is staggering, 50k meals. Wow. That's a lot of hungry kids. It's a purpose and mission driven by a board of people driven with passion for our community, employees who want to see kids succeed and volunteers who believe that giving back is an investment in the greater good of all of us.
The plan is in motion as well to return the public use element of the building. Interest in that is HIGH and they know it. We even had multiple visitors stopping in to ask while we taped. The logistics, safety and security of the kids has to be paramount and it's hopefully understood that while they work through the process, everyone understands that the delay is only to make sure it's right for the safety of the kids. It's coming back soon though.
Out chat with Dakota Crow is a longer one, but this kind thing deserves more than a quote in the paper or a :30 second clip on TV. Welcome to the future of the Boys and Girls Club of The Muskegon Lakeshore.
We could type up all the stats about the effectiveness of the Boys and Girls Club programming on everything from performance of kids in school to engaging them in STEM programs, even the staggering numbers of how many are expected to graduate high school and go on to college, but this time, we're going to ask a favor. We're going to ask you to please click on that photo below and see for yourself. The Boys and Girls Club of Muskegon has a comprehensive and detailed look at everything going on and summaries of what an impact that's been made since it opened. Sure, there was a lot of buzz when it first came along, but today the buzz has been replaced by the reality of effectiveness and to see the work paying off, and building "Great Futures" in our young people, well, that's what it's all about.