Back in the 1990s, Englewood community leaders recognized a need for the youth of the community to have fun and structured activities during the summer and after school. In 1997, their efforts succeeded with the formation of the first Boys & Girls Club of Charlotte County right here in Englewood. They espoused the Boys & Girls Clubs mission statement: to enable all young people, especially those who need it most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
The club offers programs structured towards developing the academic skills needed to graduate from high school in an enjoyable and positive atmosphere. Children from ages 6 to 18 receive homework assistance from a certified teacher, enjoy arts & crafts, have technology time, learn health living skills and engage in physical fitness, and participate in character & leadership development courses.
During the summer, kids can attend “camp” during the week. What’s an average day like? Due to COVID-19 this year, when the kids arrive, their temperature is checked & they wash their hands. A teacher spends time with each class, engaging them with the “Brain Gain” to help with summer slide. Each child participates in the Summer Reading Challenge offered through the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading from the Patterson Foundation and reads for one hour daily. They enjoy arts & crafts time, fun time outside, lab tech time on computer/iPad and enjoy a morning snack, school district provided lunch and after school snack.
During the school year, transportation is offered from local Charlotte County schools: Myakka River, Vineland, L.A. Ainger & Lemon Bay High School for the after-school program. Kids start with Power Hour where they do their homework and then enjoy outdoor time and arts & crafts. Dinner is served three nights a week at the club. The club would like to offer dinner five nights a week in the fall.
Sandy Kenney, Unit Director of the Englewood Club, says she wants kids to “come with a smile and leave with a smile.” Lynn Dorler, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County, stresses that the staff strives to offer the children they serve a fun, supportive and positive experience. He wants to provide hope to all kids and provide opportunities for success. To help achieve this, he invites members of the community who might be willing to share their special interests or expertise with the kids, such as a musician, artists who would do an art project, someone with an interesting hobby, farm animals or unusual pet. Professionals are welcome to explain their career.
After several moves over the years, the Englewood Boys & Girls Club has found a home at Gulf Cove United Methodist Church. The Boys & Girls Clubs offer programs at five locations in Charlotte County.
The clubs love seeing its kids move towards success in their lives. Two Englewood brothers, Caleb and Cory, who have been in the club for several years, are now in high school and are “counselors in training.” Cory is an outstanding musician and is in an all-star jazz band. Caleb is mastering culinary arts and participating in the drama club at school. Danielle Beeker of Port Charlotte started in the club when she was in kindergarten and is graduating from high school this year. She is being recognized as the “Youth of the Year” and is headed to school in Tallahassee this fall to pursue her dream of working in pediatric medicine. She also became a counselor and has accepted a job at the Boys & Girls Club there.
The club is looking for volunteers to assist with the kids and if you are interested in volunteering or sharing your hobby, please contact Unit Director Sandy Kenney at 460•6589.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Their funding comes from individual grants, some government money, fundraising events such as Baseball with the Tampa Rays and the Giving Challenge. The club is extremely grateful to the Englewood community for stepping up over the years to help support the organization with donations, supplies and in-kind services. One small way to contribute is a donation for Fun Fridays where the kids receive a visit from the ice cream truck or feast on pizza (not all kids have the means to purchase a treat.) Art supplies are welcome, too. If you would like to make a donation to help Englewood’s kids, a check can be mailed to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County, 21450 Gibralter Drive, Suite 10, Port Charlotte, FL 33952 or visit www.bgcocc.org.