Volunteers make the difference at Boys and Girls Club

By: 
Deb Hill
Managing Editor

Boys and Girls Club top volunteers include (back row from left) Joe and Kim Keeney, Emily Green, Stacey Van Kuiken and Amy Miller. All have children who attend the club, including (front, from left) Zachary and Coleton Keeney, Jacob Hiltunen, Koltar Van Kuiken and Conner Miller. Not shown are Dawn Ruckman and her daughter Kendall.

Photo courtesy of Crystal Tyler

 

Ask anyone who runs a non-profit organization and they’ll tell you: volunteers make the difference. This is especially true of a non-profit like the Boys and Girls Club, dedicated to providing a safe and positive environment for children after school and in the summer.

Caring for 225 kids, ages kindergarten to high school, every day means there is always something that needs to be done: building repair and maintenance, food preparation or planning for trips and activities, not to mention the extra work of fundraising.

“The Club does what it does and provides what it provides because of the volunteer help from families,” said Abby Franks, Club director. “Over the past 10 years, due to state and federal grant cuts of around $100,000, the Club was forced to do more events and fundraisers to be able to meet financial budgetary needs. Otherwise we would have been forced to cut programs. The volunteer hours help Club staff make events happen. Volunteers hang posters, sell tickets, and set up and tear down at events, among other things.”

Franks added that Club parents also provide help beyond fundraising events.

“We have a cute mom who recently taught fitness in the club to kids. Last summer we had a work day to do needed outdoor tasks, and then there are the parents who chaperone for Walleyes Kids Fishing Day,” Franks said. 

Recently the Boys and Girls Club recognized the volunteers giving the most hours of their time, and the totals are pretty impressive – the top five volunteer families donated nearly 200 hours to the club. All together volunteers contributed some 833 hours to the Boys and Girls Club.

Why do they do it?

Ask them and you’ll hear a similar theme: appreciation for the great work the Boys and Girls Club is engaged in.

“I feel like we need to do our part, to make it as good as it is,” said Dawn Ruckman. “You have to model good behavior. On reason Lewistown is so great is so many people give their time, and the Club takes really good care of my kid.”

Ruckman’s daughter, Kendall, attends the club, something Ruckman said gives her great peace of mind as a working mom.

“She has somewhere safe she can go while I’m at work,” Ruckman said.

Stacey VanKuiken agrees. VanKuiken’s son, Coltar, attends the Boys and Girls Club.

“He gets to build things, he learns social skills. They are great people,” VanKuiken said.

The Kenney twins, Coleton and Zachary, also attend the club, while both their parents work.

“This is their fourth year at the Boys and Girls Club. The club has the most wonderful staff,” said Kim Keeney. “They have great socializing events, they get afterschool snacks, help with homework – and when we get home after work it gives us a lot more quality time together as a family because the twins are already fed and their homework is done.”

Amy Miller values the Boys and Girls Club for the experiences her children have had that they would not get elsewhere.

“They get a lot of exposure to things they aren’t going to get to see at home. For example, they went horseback riding. That is never going to happen at my house. My oldest plays the guitar – his very first exposure to it was at the Boys and Girls Club. I like what the club does for kids and it’s a safe place for my kids to go after school. I want to see them succeed.”

Miller added she knows not every family can afford good after-school programs for their children.

“I want to keep that around for my kid and for everybody else’s,” she explained.

Club volunteers are asked to do everything from run errands to write thank you notes to assist with major fundraisers such as the Festival of Trees. Every single one of the top volunteer parents said they are happy to do these tasks to help the Boys and Girls Club stay in Lewistown.

“They are so good to all of us – that’s why we volunteer,” Kim Keeney said.

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