“The club’s programs are important because they really do provide kids with an environment that is safe and inclusive,” Vang said.
The ribbon-cutting and kick-off of the program on Nov. 14 culminated several years of planning and fundraising for the Eau Claire-based nonprofit, which has clubs in five area cities.
Community support, including from board members such as UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank, donors and the student workers, helped make the expansion possible, said CEO Ann Kaiser.
“The Menomonie community is very supportive of the Boys & Girls Clubs. They see the need for club youth development programs, they understand the value of providing enriching experiences during out-of-school time and they know how it adds to the quality of life,” Kaiser said.
Mentor relationships formed at the club, such as with the UW-Stout student employees, “help kids feel confident, build their self-esteem and help them to build perseverance and resiliency as adults,” she added.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the many individuals and businesses whose support made the club’s opening possible. The need for community support is ongoing, and the return on investment truly is priceless when you think about how these opportunities can change the trajectory of a life. Whether it’s financial support or volunteerism, we need even more involvement to keep up with the demand for participation,” Kaiser said.
Learn more about the capital campaign here.
Steele is a criminal justice and rehabilitation major.
As a youth development specialist at the club, he sees the work as a way to gain practical experience in his career field and help children.
“The experience is great to have as I will most likely be working with kids in my future job as a police officer or sheriff’s deputy. This is also a great way to give back. As a kid, I went to the Boys & Girls Club.”
His duties include helping students with homework, facilitating and supporting program activities and supervising children.
“I also role-model kind, caring and respectful behavior and ensure that kids are using materials and equipment in a safe and positive manner,” he said, with a goal of “making the club a fun place to be.”
Steele and Williams each work between 15 and 20 hours a week. The middle school is about a mile from UW-Stout’s central campus.