"I Could Just Be a Kid"
America's family split in two when she was only ten years old, and for four long, painful years, she couldn't see, hug or be near one of her sisters and her brother. The Boys & Girls Club of Menasha became the place where she says, "I could just be a kid." It became the place where she could escape, feel safe, have fun, and be with people who cared.
There's just not enough words to say how blessed and thankful we are for the Boys & Girls Club."
America knows how difficult being a single parent was for her Mom, who worked long hours to take care of her four children. Still, she recalls nights when she went to bed hungry before the Club came into her life, and she recalls times when her Mom needed the Club in other ways. The Club helped her mother advocate for her children through a bilingual Club staff member and even helped America make sure she could give her Mom a Mother's Day gift one year.
America recently graduated from Menasha High School and will be heading to UW-Stevens Point this fall. She plans to double major in Spanish and Education, with a minor in Psychology. "My goal is to become a teacher who can show her students that there will always be someone who cares for them no matter their struggles, like the staff at the Club cared for me."
Watch the video below to hear more about America's story.
Finding Her Voice
Kala first walked through Club doors 11 years ago at a time when she was scared, shy, and homeless.
Club gave Kala the courage to find and use her voice – and she's been unstoppable ever since.
“The Club allowed me to reexamine my passions and start envisioning a future for myself I was actually happy in.”
Kala has used her voice to become a published writer, beautiful singer, mental health activist, and leader to those around her.
While the Club has been a continuous shelter from the outside problems in my life, it has also been an amazing platform.”
She continues to use her voice to eliminate the stigma around the mental health crisis, advocate for racial equity, and believes that everyone should be able to have their voices heard.
Kala's time at the Club and with the Club's STAR program helped mold her into a leader one opportunity at a time. Our fantastic Youth of the Year winner even went on to place among the top three at the 2020 Boys & Girls Club of Wisconsin competition. Kala plans on a career in music or journalism and will be taking a year off before attending UW-Milwaukee next fall.
Watch the video below to learn more about Kala!
Video Courtesy of WFRV Local 5
To Theo, Club has always been a safe place to belong, be himself, and have fun with staff who genuinely care about him and his future. He learned the value of asking for help at the Club and how impactful even a small, encouraging moment can be in a child's life.
Theo first started coming to the Boys & Girls Club eight years ago. As a kid he attended several different schools, he knew he could always count on the Club to be there for him. He remembers looking up to the kind and caring staff who took the time to get to know him and help him grow.
I want to give back . . . I want to be a part of building people up like those staff members did for me.”
He went on to do just that by becoming a mentor to other youth as a junior staff at the Boys & Girls Club of Wilson Middle School.
Theo already found one way to give back by becoming a mentor to other young people at the Boys & Girls Club of Wilson Middle School. He tries to carry the lessons he learned as a Club member forward by helping make each Wilson Club members' days better. “Working at Club is super fulfilling – even in the small interactions with the kids.”
Theo recently graduated from Appleton West High School and will be headed to college this fall to pursue a degree in Urban Studies.
Every day our Clubs bring opportunity, chances to grow, learn, and make connections that help 15,000 kids each year build a foundation for a brighter future.
But, young people's needs in our community continue to grow. To help ensure a great future for all, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley launched its $9.875 MM Great Futures 2020 Campaign in mid-2019.
The Great Futures Campaign has three goals: 1) to enhance critical services such as career readiness programs and professional mental health counseling; 2) to grow the average number of young people served each school day by the Club from 1,300 to 1,700; 3) to expand our facilities and improve safety.
The Campaign got off to a great start, which allowed us to break ground on a much-needed 15,200 square foot addition to the Boys & Girls Club of Menasha in the fall of 2019, much earlier than initially expected.
Many wonderful and generous community partners have contributed $8.2 MM to the Great Futures 2020 Campaign so far! We are humbled and immensely thankful for these caring people's commitment to our kids. Click the button below to learn more about the Great Futures 2020 Campaign and how you can help make a difference in young people's lives.