The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay works to help young people reach their goals and become valuable members of their communities. The nonprofit organization also aims to help families who are dealing with difficult socioeconomic issues.
More than 10,000 children are served through the organization every year.
Patch recently spoke to Lisa-Perry Richardson, vice president of development for the local chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, to learn more about the organization and see how the community can get involved.
Patch: When was the BGC founded, and by who?
Richardson: The Tampa Rotary Club established the Boys' Clubs of Tampa in January 1926, and eventually turned the program over to the Boys' Clubs of Tampa. Mergers and name changes over the years resulted in what today exists as Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, serving Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Today, more than 1,500 youth daily and more than 10,000 youth annually are served through a total of eighteen Club sites and outreach services.
Patch: What is the organization's purpose?
Richardson: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay’s mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Patch: What services does the BGC provide for the children it services?
Richardson: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay provides comprehensive out-of-school time services to youth in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. From early literacy to community involvement, Boys & Girls Clubs’ programs tackle the inequalities underserved and at-risk youth encounter. Outcomes-driven programs use best-practices, innovative solutions and highly-trained staff to ensure that the youth served are afforded the skills and opportunities to become responsible, caring adults.
Designed for impact, our outcomes focus on: improving educational skills and academic achievement; strengthening decision making and resiliency skills leading to healthier lifestyles; and, increasing civic engagement to build character and leadership. Through consistent interactions with caring adults in a structured environment with rich, age-appropriate developmental programs and positive social norms, Boys & Girls Clubs impact the lives of young people by helping them develop the values, skills, attitudes, character and behavior that enable them to succeed in life.
Patch: Why is the group important for communities like Carrollwood and Northdale?
Richardson: In Tampa Bay, the demand for affordable, quality out-of-school-time programs exceeds the supply. With over 200,000 youth enrolled in schools throughout Hillsborough County and approximately only 30,000 after school openings available, many youth are left to their own devices during the hours they need guidance and support the most. Few options are available for families to provide affordable, quality after-school care and supervision for their children, forcing many to choose between maintaining their employment, staying home to supervise their children, or leaving their children unsupervised during the out-of-school hours. These high risk, out-of-school-time hours - when youth are most vulnerable and apt to engage in destructive behaviors which often decrease their ability to reach a productive adulthood - are effectively addressed by Boys & Girls Clubs’ Comprehensive Youth Development Services.
Patch: How can volunteers get involved?
Richardson: There are many ways community volunteers can get involved, from mentoring kids, homework help and tutoring, fundraising and much more. Activities that include regular direct contact with children require a volunteer application, background screening, and orientation. To learn more about volunteering, please visit our website at www.bgctampa.org and click on “Employment & Volunteers.” We also have a special program called “Club Blue, for young professionals who want to get involved with Boys & Girls Clubs’ mission.