Magali is a 7th grader at Flamson Middle School. When the school year first started Magali did not want to be at the Boys & Girls Club, and she made it known to the Staff and her peers. Her attitude from the time she walked into the Club to the time she left was very negative. It was difficult to convince Magali to allow anyone to help her during Power Hour, our homework completion program, or to even have a conversation with her.
After becoming involved in Torch Club, a service club, her attitude started changing. In choosing to be a part of Torch Club she chose to be part of something bigger than herself. Magali’s investment in our Club improved so much that she ran for President of the Torch Club. Although Magali did not win the election, she continued to fully participate in Power Hour, Torch Club, and volunteered to be part of our singing pro-gram for our up coming open house.
Being the leader of her peer group, she has a great amount of influence on their behavior as well. Since her recent change in attitude, she has instructed peers not “goof around” as much and to take Torch Club more seriously. She has improved her grade in English from a D to a C and is working to further improvement. During Torch Club, Magali is allowing herself to be more vulnerable and open up on topics. It is inspiring to see her outlook on the Boys & Girls club change over time. She now enters our doors with a bright smile and a joyful attitude.
We were first approached by Madyson’s grandmother in Spring of 2013, desperate to find a place for her 4 year-old granddaughter to spend the summer. Her first question was “What do you do when a child runs away?” Further discussion with the family helped us understand that Madyson would need some special attention. Her young age, behavioral issues, and lack of experience with a structured program were all cause for concern. Nonetheless, we were determined to give Madyson a chance to find her place at the Boys and Girls Club.
Early on Madyson struggled with following directions, sitting for organized group activities, and focusing on summer learning activities. She had difficulty keeping her hands to herself and her method of communicating with other members was yelling and grabbing. Hiding under tables and behind doors was frequent when she did not want to participate in our programs or did not get her way, and she received several disciplinary write-ups during her first months.
Over several months staff worked with her on proper ways of communicating, using words to explain how she feels and get her needs met. We also worked with her on socialization and provided individualized help to accommodate her learning style. It became apparent that Madyson loves to be a helper and we used this framework to help her understand and follow club rules. Madyson is now a wonderful club member who participates fully in classes, Power Hour, and group activities. She shows up with a huge smile and willingly engages with others. For the 2014-2015 school year, Madyson has not received a single disciplinary write-up and, in fact, was honored as Youth of the Month for January 2015.
Madyson’s mother, Jessica, is a single mom, living and working in Atascadero. She felt that Mady-son thrived at the Paso Summer camp in 2013, so she has continued to bring Madyson to the after-school program on a daily basis. Jessica leaves work at 2:30 to bring Madyson from her school to the Club and returns at 6:00 to pick her up. Last year Madyson was able to attend the summer program in Atascadero. Jessica says that an Atascadero after-school program would be “an answer to her prayers” and “that her employer would be thrilled as well.”
We didn’t know everything we could’ve known about Jacob when he came through our doors. However, we did know a bit of family history. The more we found out about his back-ground from him, the more we marveled at his good attitude amidst a lot of struggle and stress. His attitude was one so bright with staff and students that he is what we call our bright light every day. He compliments others, helps staff and peers, and perennially wears a beaming smile. We even had a contest to see if he could make a mad face! No…IMPOSSIBLE! Even his maddest face looked happy still.
The remarkable thing is, we found out at the Club that this attitude emanating from Jacob, which we enjoyed daily, was NOT what Jacob was formerly known for at school. His counselor and teachers were remarking that his attitude had “changed” and “improved” with his time at the Boys and Girls Club. We then found out that his grades had vastly improved, A’s and B’s for the most part where D’s and F’s formerly were.
We realized at the Club that Jacob was a reflection of what we STRIVE to accomplish at the Club and what we are when we’re at our absolute BEST. Here is a student whose grades were impacted with our tutoring help and whose amazing attitude, which we thought was his “usual”, had actually been greatly improved by his Club attendance.
We at the Club do find it helpful to understand where a student is coming from. Their background, existing school situation, and home history are im-portant things to consider when engaging with an individual. However, we don’t judge a student based on this information. When a member walks in our doors, who they’ve BEEN in their history or even their entire day at school preceding our pro-gram, doesn’t have to be who they ARE at the Club. No judgements or pre-conceived notions from us based on what we know or have been told, only sup-port and positivity from our staff. Jacob remarked the other day “I don’t know what I did BEFORE I had the Club…I don’t know what I would do NOW if I didn’t have it!” Jacob is a prime example of what the Boys & Girls Club strives to do. Support, en-gage, improve and impact our members. We’ve known Jacob as the Club’s bright light and now many others get to see him this way as well.
Juliana has been a Club member for over two years. When she first joined us, it was a constant struggle to get her to focus on her homework and make appropriate social choices. She was easily distracted, craved attention from her Power Hour group, and believed she couldn’t do her schoolwork. Staff recognized Juli-ana’s intelligence and sense of humor, but we had to work very hard to help her improve self-esteem, build focus and self-control, and believe that she could achieve more. Juliana’s group leader, Elyse, spent many hours of one-on-one time with Juliana, as part of our on-site mentoring program. Elyse successfully encouraged Juliana to join Smart Girls, a program that is designed to build character and help girls suc-cessfully navigate adolescence. Lastly, we worked in conjunction with the middle school to identify spe-cific areas where her mentor could be of the most help with regard to academic performance.
Through considerable effort, Juliana has made enormous strides in both her behavior and academic perfor-mance. When Power Hour starts, she is immediately on task. When she is struggling with math, instead of acting out in frustration, she calmly raises her hand and waits for help. She is now determined to finish her homework and to get good grades. She has completely turned her grades around, achieving A’s and B’s instead of her prior D’s and F’s. This quarter she will make honor roll at Flamson Middle School, something she never thought she could accomplish. She was in disbelief when Elyse told her that she had the grades to make honor roll. Speechless, she slowly looked up at her, and then finally managed to utter the words, “No way”.
We, at the Club, have always been in Juliana’s corner, en-couraging her and celebrating her successes, large and small. Elyse reflected that, “It is stories like Juliana that encourage me to do what I do. To never give up on any stu-dent, because our consistency and encouragement just may be the thing they need to pick themselves up and hold their head high in confidence. That with a little help, or some-times a lot, they can make a great future for themselves.” We are so proud of Juliana and the personal growth she has achieved as a Club member.
Paso Robles | 600 26th Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Atascadero | 5850 Rosario Avenue, Atascadero, CA 93422
Mailing | 2631 Spring Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Paso Club Phone Number | (805) 239-3659
Atascadero Club Phone Number | (805) 769-5950
Fax Number | (805) 239-3616