For nearly 32 years, the Girls & Boys Club of Truckee Meadows has strived to provide a safe place for local youth ages 6-18 to learn and grow.
Working families have trusted the organization to provide recreation, companionship, develop academic and personal skills for their children, as a low-cost alternative to staying home alone or getting involved in criminal activity.
To celebrate its positive effect on more than 8,000 local children served at seven community sites every year - and to invite new members - a host of fun activities are planned this week as part of National Boys & Girls Club Week.
Today is Arts Day, where kids and staff are invited to dress in 80s garb, and kids are welcome to perform in a talent show, complete with red carpet and paparazzi, that starts at 5 p.m. in the large gym at the Ninth Street location.
Wednesday is Boys & Girls Nite Out and Crazy Hair Day. Sign up on Tuesday or early Wednesday to participate in a fun-filled night of circus acts, carnival games, bounce houses, obstacle course, rock climbing and face painting, held from after-school hours until 8 p.m.
Thursday features a health and resource fair, and is also hat day. Interactive displays and resource tables will be set up in the cafeteria at the Ninth Street site from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday is Family Night, as children are invited to dress in their pajamas and enjoy art projects, games and dinner with their families. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by a big screen movie with popcorn and candy in the small gym at the Ninth Street site.
On Saturday, the community is invited to participate in a community clean-up, BBQ and information fair, along with a lip sync performance and the peace week quilt will be on display.
To kick off the special week of activities, the Club located in the Donald W. Reynolds facility hosted a media tour on Monday.
Youth Services Director Brittina Koganhill lead a tour of the facility's classrooms, play areas and gyms, concluding with a lunch and speech by Mike Wurm, Chief Professional Officer.
"We love to get people inside to see what we have," Wurm said. "This building is one of the premier Boys and Girls Club facilities in the West and our aim is to help kids."
One aim is to teach the youth to be responsible both for their actions, as well as for the building. Wurm explained that before the building closes, several children will help staff to clean and prepare the building for the next day.
"We want the kids to feel first class no matter if they have money or not," he said.
One young person that the club has helped is Reed High School Senior Robyn Bailey, the Club's Youth of the Year. During lunch she gave a speech detailing the challenges she has faced and how the teen's club helped her get back on the right track.
This summer Bailey will work as part of the staff until the fall, when she leaves for college in Georgia.
Wurm added that a grant from the Reynolds Foundation allowed the club to build the facility that they wanted to have. This was done after the club was able to raise the necessary matching funds.
"If the child or parents can't afford it, the programs are 100 percent free," he said. "There is a $15 annual fee for members so we offer safe, affordable care for $1.25 a month."
Wurm noted that the well-kept grounds and building sometimes work as negative aspects, when trying to raise operation funds. He explained the fund raising is an ongoing project and the biggest event is a dinner held at the end of February, raising about 27 percent of the year's budget.
There is a paid staff that swells to between 160 to 170 during the summer and some of the kids that are members, if they do what is required during the year, will be hired when school is out.
Another point Wurm made is that the Club isn't just for underprivileged kids but young people from all kinds of backgrounds.
"They are from all walks of life and neighborhoods," Wurm said. "This building has the most diversified group in town. When there is a problem with any of the kids, it's addressed and dealt with. It's a great place for kids to fail, as they have others around them to help and explain what they did wrong and how to work around that."
He added that if a child or teen has a problem that needs professional help, they'll contact the appropriate agency.
Wurm explained that, due to the economic situation some parents face, some of the kids will spend all day in school then be at the Club until about 6:30 p.m. when their parents pick them up.
"We try to be an extension of the parents but for some we are the parents," Wurm said. "Some of them get a meal at school, then here. Our goal is to have their homework done and allow them to blow off some steam so they're a bit tired when the parents come to take them home."
Right now the Club has nine satellite facilities including three at local elementary schools. Unfortunately, due to space requirements, the one at TMCC will close within the next month.
Looking ahead, Wurm said the goal for the Club is to continue to provide care and education for area youth now and far beyond the time he and the current staff work at the facility.
Annual membership covers general programs in the after-school program at the Neil Road, Donald W. Reynolds Facility, Sun Valley Teen Center, the Club Teen Center at LDJCC, the Club Teen Center at Hug High School, bussing from over 50 area schools, and a meal served everyday from 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. at the DWR Facility.
Additional fees are required for before- and after-school programs at Rollan Melton, Sun Valley and Lois Allen elementary schools.
At the Donald W. Reynolds Facility on East Ninth Street, the Club is open 2:30-8 p.m. Monday - Friday for the after-school program, from 7:45 a.m.-4 p.m. for the school track break program, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on school vacations. The Club also has a summer day camp.
The Club has a kitchen, cafeteria/ multi-purpose room, games room, learning center and library, Teen Center, computer lab, outdoor pavilion, 17,000 square-foot gym and a playground, according to the website.
In 2006, the Club served more than 7,300 registered members and nearly 1,000 youth attend Boys & Girls Club facilities every day, Wurm said.