The fifth Boys & Girls Club of the Mississippi Valley opened last month in the Roosevelt Community Center in west Davenport. The Roosevelt Club, as this group is called, held its grand opening on September 15. Unit Director Cliff Sims said the club fills a need in Davenport's west end because "many kids had nothing to do after school in this area."
The club, located at 1220 Minnie Avenue in the former Roosevelt Elementary School, is open Monday through Friday from 2 until 6 p.m. It opens one hour earlier on Wednesdays, because Davenport schools let out earlier that day.
Membership in the Boys & Girls Club is open to kids ages six through 18. Currently there are 113 members, 60 of whom signed up at the grand opening. Beyond the current 113 members, 40 more applications for membership have been received, but more staff is needed to supervise the additional children. Membership dues are $12 per year, and members receive a Boys & Girls Club T-shirt and a membership card.
Most of these kids attending the Roosevelt Club come from Hayes, Jackson, and Monroe elementary schools and Smart Intermediate school, although membership is open to kids from all neighborhoods.
In its first month of operation, the club has grown primarily by word-of-mouth, Sims said. The goal for the club is to have between 150 and 200 members.
There has been a need for after-school programs since the Davenport schools' "Discovery Junction" program shut down in 2004 due to lack of funding. Nationwide, Boys & Girls Clubs provide more after-school programs than any other organization, with more than 4.5 million kids participating daily.
The goal of the Roosevelt Club, and all Boys & Girls Clubs, is "to build positive individuals and productive citizens," said Sims, through education, physical fitness, leadership, and structure. "We offer leadership training, prevention programs, gymnastics, computers, dance, and much more," he said.
Several students stated that there was nothing to do after school let out each day. Many parents agreed.
The club's leadership program, The Torch Club, is run by the teenagers who plan some of the activities and events. The Power Hour Homework Center is up and running, and volunteers from teachers to parents assist students with their homework needs. The computer lab will get wired for the Internet soon.
After the homework is done, the game room - with Playstations, pool, and air hockey - opens up. Kids can also take part in basketball, volleyball, and other activities in the gymnasium. Out behind the building is the playground left over from the former school. Adjacent to the playground is Harbor Road Park, with two baseball diamonds and lots of room for running. Back inside is an exercise room with weight equipment (and proper instruction). Nick Tarpien's School of Martial Arts soon will be providing instruction from basic karate all the way to jujitsu.
Upcoming events include the club's "Lights on" open house on Thursday, October 12, from 2 until 8 p.m. Teen nights and "Fun Fridays" are also on the schedule. The club plans to host events around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and those activities might include surrounding neighborhoods.
Sims said that the neighborhood has been "graced with so much potential. Opening this club in this location is a dream come true." More volunteers and part-time staff members are needed to help with the growing membership.
For information, contact the Roosevelt Boys & Girls Club at (563) 322-5507 or visit (http://www.bgcmv.com).