Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat celebrates grand success
Club welcomes its 1,000th member
Steamboat Springs — Just ask 8-year-old Hayden Higginbotham what kids used to do when school got out and there was no Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs to go to.
“Usually, they just went home and played Wii or Xbox,” said Hayden, who lives across the street from the club on Eighth Street.
Hayden is a regular at the club and goes nearly every day to play in the gym with his friends in a safe after-school environment. It has been that way since he joined the
club the day it opened June 8, 2009.
The club celebrated a milestone Thursday when it signed up its 1,000th member, 9-year-old Madison Truong, who signed up so she could spend more time with Lili Hutchinson, 9. Madison spent the day off from school at the club making beaded animals out of string, playing carpet ball and participating in a treasure hunt.
“There’s a lot of fun things to do,” Madison said.
It was a welcome change from what she would otherwise be doing.
“I would just mostly play in my room or draw,” she said.
Club board member Mary Brown, a longtime Steamboat resident, was ecstatic to learn Friday that the club’s membership had hit four digits.
“The fact that we have 1,000 members shows we were right,” Brown said. “It is filling a gap.”
The Steamboat club was structured around Craig’s. With furniture and computer donations from local businesses, $2,000 for supplies and $6,000 to pay rent, the Steamboat club signed up 37 members on the first day. A year later, there were about 770 members.
The member numbers grew, as did the club’s budget, which is about $370,000 for 2011. Most of the money comes from private donations and grants.
“It’s a daunting task to raise that much money,” Brown said. “We are extremely fortunate that the community has been so supportive.”
Membership to the club is open to anyone ages 6 to 18 and costs $25 a year. That pays for after-school activities from 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Play days such as those on Thursdays and Fridays, when youths were out of school because of parent-teacher conferences, cost $1 per hour. The club also has a summer program.
Parents rave about the flexibility the club has offered them.
“They can come for an hour or they can come all day,” Steamboat Springs parent Katie Armstrong said. “I don’t have to drop them off at a certain time or pick them up at a certain time.”
The club stresses that it is not a day care facility,
but rather a youth development program founded in 1890 by a group of women who thought there should be an alternative for children who might otherwise be roaming the streets.
“Kids come here because they want to come here,” said Heather Martyn, the club’s unit director, who worked for more than a year to establish the club. “We’ve had kids we couldn’t discipline, and now they listen to us. We’ve seen kids get in shape. We’ve seen kids do better in school. Parents are happy because their kids are taken care of and having fun in a safe place. We have big brothers who can go out for baseball because they don’t have to take care of their little sisters.”
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or e-mail mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
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