A Home Not So Far Away From Home, The Tarrytown Boys & Girls Club

To say the Boys and Girls Club has had a positive effect on the Village of Tarrytown is an understatement. The facility, located at the Community Opportunity Center at 105 Wildey Street, is only in its third year and has already proven its value and worth.

Unfortunately, a place like this that offers academic programs, guidance and care isn’t just desirable, it’s necessary.

According to the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, “Many Club members come from dysfunctional families due to the effects of divorce, single-parent households, domestic violence, homelessness, language barriers, income pressures, substance abuse and crime.” Averaging a daily attendance in the hundreds, the Club serves as a positive and safe environment outside the classroom and home. The “Kids Café” program, funded by the Child and Adult Care Food Program or CACFP and America’s Second Harvest, offers hot meals in the afternoon and evenings. The Club’s statistics note that… “nearly all the children (The Boys and Girls Club) serves come from families with household incomes below poverty level…nearly all participate in the free lunch program at school and the Club’s evening dinner is the only other food they receive daily.”

Under the direction of the Club’s Director, Kevin Major, Tarrytown offers a variety of programs and classes for the approximately 400 members. With ages ranging from 6 to 18 years old, the Club has something for everyone.

For many members that don’t have access to computers outside of school, the Beaumont Computer Lab has state-of-the-art computers for use in the Club’s after-school programs and for leisure. The Club also has a spacious gymnasium for a variety of tournaments and sports activities including volleyball and basketball. Building on the idea of the importance of physical well-being, there is also a fitness room where teens can workout. There is an experienced fitness trainer on hand to provide assistance and instruction on proper use of the equipment.

Other members are attracted to the more academic and career-oriented programs that are offered. There is a program called “Ultimate Journey,” which is conducted along with Stone Barns and Teatown. The program teaches younger members a wide variety of issues in science, nature and the environment. For the older members, there are the “Money Matters” and the “Torch and Keystone Clubs.” “Money Matters” teaches teens how to manage money and the importance of accounts and saving-skills that will be even more beneficial as they grow older. The “Torch and Keystone Clubs” guide middle and high school members with leadership development programs.

There is also a well-stocked library in which members can read and check out books as with any other library. Unlike most libraries, this one also acts as a room where members can go to receive homework help from staff members.

The Club has about 28 professional youth workers. Positive reinforcement is definitely a key aspect of the Boys & Girls Club. There are “Youth of the Month” and “Youth of the Year” awards that are given to middle and high school students that demonstrate active contribution to the community, the Club, school, or elsewhere. “We feel it is important to acknowledge all of our members’ accomplishments,” said Executive Director Brian Skanes.

Overall, the mission of the Boys & Girls Club is, “to inspire and enable all young people from all backgrounds to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.”

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About the Author: David Jacobsen Jr.