Its 4:30 p.m. on a Friday night — while most people are preparing to leave the office and kickoff the weekend the excit ement is also building in the recreation room at Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.
The shuffle of sneakers can be heard from the gymnasium as a basketball game is in full force, meanwhile the beat of a familiar hip-hop song plays while a pair tries to keep pace with the steps in a game of Dance Dance Revolution.
A long table covered with a rainbow of nail polish is laid out and some girls take turns trying on all of the sparkly colors. Another group gathers around for a game of pool and everyone seems to be fully engaged and occupied — until the volunteer coordinator announces, “Its Club Bucks time!” Then everything stops. This is the time every week when kids get to cash in their Club Bucks, earned by hours spent reading, studying and doing homework for something sweet, shiny or new in the Club Store.
For more than 100 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine has been working to build this exciting environment that offers Portland area young people a safe place to grow and develop through their formative years. The organization helps foster a sense of belonging as a positive influence in young peoples’ lives. The club reaches out to children who cannot afford or may lack access to other community programs, offering education, extra-circular activities, healthy meals to those facing food insecurity and most of all a fun place to make lifelong friends.
The TLP team had the opportunity to spend two evenings with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine in January — which also happens to be National Mentoring Month. We sent five volunteers each Friday to prep the nightly snack, spend time in the recreation room with the kids and then serve the snack and clean up after the meal.
We had a wonderful time getting to know the friendly staff and young people and we can’t wait to go back.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine check out their website. Help a young person know the community cares about them.