The Center for Children and Families has teamed up with the Boys and Girls Club to open a new club in Norman.
With the support of the city of Norman, United Way, Norman Public Schools and other private foundations, the Boys and Girls Club Norman will open its doors on August 24.
The Boys and Girls Club is a national organization that serves kids in need of love and support. Vernon Hooks, the director of the Boys and Girls Club Norman, said this after-school program provides children with snacks, tutoring, mentoring and activities for self-expression and leadership development.
“It's an after-school program for kids at risk and in high poverty," Hooks said. "It's a place for them to come during the summer as well."
Katie Fitzgerald, the executive director of the Center for Children and Families (C.C.F.I.), said they will focus on helping the kids that have the most need, not only in high poverty, but also those that deal with difficult situations at home.
“The kids who need us most are here," Fitzgerald said. "Norman Public Schools’ percentage of children in the entire district who are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program is now about 50 percent. They are also lacking a safe and positive place to go in their after school time."
The Boys and Girls Club Norman will show that the city cares about children and that the right steps are being taken to ensure that all kids have equal opportunities to love, support and learning activities, Fitzgerald said.
“It makes a clear statement that we in Norman care about kids in our community," Fitzgerald said. "The more we can connect these kids to positive role models, to aspiring to go to college, to doing well in school, to learning about the skills and talents they have that they never would know about because they couldn’t afford a dance class ... I think this is the first step."
Hooks described the club as a “wrap-around service,” and unlike other programs, the Boys and Girls Club Norman will offer other services like counseling for both the children and their families. Fitzgerald said that the Boys and Girls Club is also very affordable.
“Almost all those other options are fee-based, so families have to pay a fee for that service and at the club we have a very nominal fee... $20 for the whole year (for the membership entirely)," Fitzgerald said. "It is really not designed to fund the club, but to let the kids and their families have some ownership in their membership."
Some things are still being done to be completely ready for August like training, construction and enrollment, but Fitzgerald is very excited about the partnership with the Boys and Girls Club Norman.
“The Center for Children and Families has been around for 46 year ... the Boys and Girls Club is the last piece of the puzzle," Fitzgerald said. The two organizations will work together to provide a strong foundation for the children, she said.
Hooks said the organization welcomes volunteers who “love children and are not afraid to have fun," and added that it could be an opportunity for volunteers to gain many skills.
“We are always looking for responsible adults to be positive role models for these kids," Hooks said. "It is a fun, loving, supportive place for kids to be."