Boys & Girls Club gains momentum as COVID-19 intensifies need
Story by Bill Bertsche – Boys & Girls Club of Manitowoc County Executive Director (For USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
The Boys & Girls Club of Manitowoc County Advisory Board and I have been working hard over the past 10 months to bring a Boys & Girls Club to Manitowoc County. We know the need for a club greatly exists in the community, and we are working as fast as we can to establish one here. The project is gaining momentum, and in the months to come I will regularly share updates on the progress of our projects and the benefits of having a club in our community.
COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. Job loss, academic loss, health concerns, equity issues and trauma are on the rise. A lot of unknowns will arise moving forward, but one thing is for sure: youth and families in our community will need more help than ever. That’s where a Boys and Girls Club can be a huge asset.
Every young person should have equal access to resources and experiences that give them every opportunity in life. Yet, kids today do not. With 1 in 6 children living in poverty in the U.S., and a growing achievement gap, it is more critical now that monumental change occur.
Quality after-school programs like Boys & Girls Clubs give all young people access to opportunities, leveling the playing field among all kids, no matter economic status, race, gender, sexuality or religion.
The Boys & Girls Club of Manitowoc County has been working with the city of Manitowoc to build a Boys & Girls Club on the storied Mirro site. We feel this will be an outstanding location, as it is central to all schools, located in proximity to need, and will provide much-needed green space for programming.
The Mirro site is also very visible, located on a bus line and big enough that it will allow for expansion should we ever outgrow the facility we build.
Our vision is to create a site that will be a great gateway to the redeveloped downtown area and something of which the community can be proud. The property is complex, and it will take some time to work through the many issues that exist to remediate it. However, it will be a perfect fit for a club and big improvement from the current rubble at that location.
I look forward to the work involved in bringing a club to Manitowoc. We are one of the largest communities in Wisconsin without one! Recently, you may have seen that our new Meijer store donated $10,000 toward the start-up of the club here. This was amazing, and we are so appreciative!
In the coming weeks, we will be further developing our vision for a club and moving toward a capital campaign to raise money. Please stay tuned for more information.
Want to learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs and our mission to bring one to Manitowoc? Visit bgcmanitowoccounty.org, or call me at 920-470-8063.
Together, we can help make our community stronger! Help us get a club built in Manitowoc!
Editor’s note: HTR Editor Brandon Reid is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Manitowoc County Advisory Board and Executive Committee. The club has a temporary office inside the HTR building at 902 Franklin St., but the building is not open to the public.