Provo, Utah, November 3, 2020–Over the past eight months, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County has offered a variety of services designed to help children and families throughout Utah County navigate many of the challenges that have arisen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As schools and businesses closed in March, the Club went virtual by offering programming and support for children at home, including homework help, online fitness classes, and hands-on activities. Over 1,700 youth had access to the Club’s virtual programming throughout the rest of the school year. Additionally, in coordination with UServe Utah, the Club’s administrative offices became Utah County’s donation center for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to be used in local hospitals and testing locations. Over 20,000 PPE items were collected between March and July of this year.
The demand for food support rose significantly as parents were furloughed and children no longer had access to school lunch. From serving 400 meals a day in January and February, the Club’s child nutrition program grew to serving 4,000 grab-and-go meals each day. Over 200,000 meals were served between March and August of this year. One member of the community said, “My husband’s hours were cut down due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the meals you provided helped a lot. I know the meals made a big difference for a number of my neighbors as well.”
In April, The Provo Clubhouse reopened as an emergency childcare center (ECC) to provide childcare for first responders and essential workers. “The Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County has been a lifeline for my family,” said Jeni Jones. Jeni and her husband Jason work for Intermountain Healthcare, Jeni as a communications specialist and Jason as a nurse. The Joneses, like so many others, were suddenly thrown into the challenges of working from home, while also homeschooling and caring for their two young children. Through the One Utah Childcare Program, the Joneses qualified for emergency childcare and were matched with the Club’s emergency childcare center. The ECC provided support for the Joneses and many other families through the end of June.
After the ECC closed, the Club opened a modified summer program in place of its traditional summer camp program. For six weeks, Club members participated in academic learning, fun activities, and lots of socializing while also operating within Utah state guidelines. All staff and Club members wore masks, youth were kept in small groups separated from the other groups, social distancing was practiced during meal times, and Club spaces were sanitized between every rotation and use.
Similar safety precautions have been implemented as the Club has reopened its afterschool programs in coordination with local school districts. Already, the return to school has been marked by significant uncertainty, larger equity gaps, learning losses for many students, and continued economic strain on families. The Club is doing everything it can to alleviate these challenges and help youth gain access to the tools they need to make up those differences including homework help, STEM learning, digital citizenship, enrichment activities, healthy meals and snacks, and the support of caring adult mentors.
“These services have been implemented during this pandemic to support our community and alleviate burdens on struggling families and essential employees” said David Bayles, Executive Director of the Club. “It has been humbling to see government, individuals, and businesses step up to support these efforts.”
Family by family, child by child, the Boys & Girls Club is committed to making a difference in the lives of those who need us most.