by GRACE HILSCHER
The Boys & Girls Club of America has been providing positive after-school activities since 1860. What started as the goal of three women, soon became a nation-wide organization. Now the organization serves nearly four million kids each year. This year Drake made history by opening the Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Boys & Girls Club, the second Boys & Girls Club to be open on a private university’s campus.
Some well-known alumni of BGCA include Scandal’s Kerry Washington, famous basketball player and philanthropist Shaquille O’Neal and famous actor Denzel Washington. They all attributed some of their success to the BGCA.
It is the BGCA’s goal to provide a safe and beneficial place for kids and teens to go after school across the US. According to the BGCA’s website, “every day, 11.3 million kids leave school with no place to go, and every summer, 43 million kids lack access to summer learning programs,”
It is the role of BGCA to step in and provide a place for those kids to go and learn necessary skills, and enjoy themselves. According to the website, of the teens served, 97% of them are expected to graduate and about 88% will be completing some form of post-secondary education.
Of the 4,300 BGCAs across the US, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa (BGCCI) houses six of the locations. The sixth club opened its doors this year: the Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Boys & Girls Club (nicknamed the Burt Club). It is located near the southwest corner of 25th St. and Forest Ave.
Kendra Allen, the unit director for the Burt Club, explained that their “mission is to inspire and enable all you people, especially those who need [the BGCCI] the most, to reach their full potential as caring, productive, and responsible students.”
The Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Boys & Girls Club will serve up to 250 kids and teens from all over central Des Moines, and provide a unique opportunity for students on Drake’s campus.
“The Burt Club is the only club site in the metro who serves kindergarten to 12th grade,” Allen said.
The family-serving club keeps a food pantry on-site, provides meals and snacks in their after school program and keeps clothes on hand to anticipate the needs of their children.
Allen wants the Burt Club to be a safe place for all kids first and foremost. She also wants students to be actively engaged, and genuinely interested. The Burt club has a variety of activities and programs to help engage kids and foster new skills.
The new club houses two basketball courts, a computer lab, a test kitchen, a recording studio, game rooms and areas to relax and focus on work. Katie Tucker, one of the program specialists, cannot wait to “get more kids, get more staff and just utilize the new space.”
For Drake students who want to get involved, there are many different opportunities. The Burt Club welcomes tours and will take students around the facility to see what they are about, Allen said.
Students can work with kids; although this may not be everyone’s forte, but there are many ways to still be involved. Students can get involved by donating food for the pantry, school supplies and clothing drive.
“I want [Drake] students to know that whatever their dreams are whether it is helping a club, helping a kid, or helping a family that [BGCCI] can make that happen,” Allen said.
She hopes that the partnership with Drake will inspire the kids to go to Drake or seek further education elsewhere.
The Burt Club has many exciting plans and programs coming up. Tucker expressed her enthusiasm for the upcoming lyricism program.
“[The lyricism program] teaches the power of words,” Tucker said. “The kids can rap, do slam poems, and use their voices [positively].”
There are also many events coming up as well. They will be hosting a teen night on Oct. 18 from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. It will be a Halloween party celebrating the teens at the Burt Club.
There will also be a Trunk or Treat taking place on Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the
Burt Club Parking Lot. Drake students and organizations can get involved and volunteer to decorate a trunk or donate Halloween candy to help the kids have a happy Halloween.
For students looking to get involved, whether it is helping with one of the upcoming events, becoming a volunteer or organizing a drive, they can contact Kendra Allen at
firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa. To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of America, go to bgca.org.