Boys & Girls Club opens satellite at Sunshine Shelter

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 30, 2005

NATCHEZ &8212; The newest Boys & Girls Club program in town will start next week &8212; but don&8217;t look for them at the main B&GC at the old Thompson School.

Instead, the club is starting a satellite location at the Sunshine Shelter on North Union Street, a temporary home for abused and neglected children.

By becoming a B&GC location, the shelter gets access to a variety of the club&8217;s nationally recognized programs.

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Take Smart Moves, for example. A large part of that B&GC curriculum focuses on activities that build a child&8217;s self-esteem. And that&8217;s something shelter Executive Director Matilda Stephens said many abused children desperately need.

Or Career Prep. That B&GC program teaches teens basic financial management, gives them career assessments and teaches them other life skills.

That&8217;s perfect, since the State Department of Human Services requires such shelters to give their teens a certain number of hours of life skills training.

&8220;We now have to drive them over to the DHS office to give them that training, but now they can do it right here,&8221; Stephens said.

That&8217;s with the aid of a computer lab already set up at the shelter.

Not only that, but being a B&GC location qualifies the shelter to get more tutors to help its children with school subjects.

&8220;We&8217;ll be able to have licensed teachers,&8221; Stephens said.

Stephens said the idea of having a club location at the shelter came about when Club Director Faye Minor told her of clubs that B&GC&8217;s national office had started in hurricane shelters after Katrina.

Southeast Regional Director Clyde McGuire &8212; who couldn&8217;t be reached Tuesday &8212; liked the idea, and a new type of club was born.

&8220;I don&8217;t know of any other type of club like this,&8221; Stephens said. &8220;If it&8217;s successful, it could be a model for (clubs) in other shelters like ours.&8221;

The club&8217;s other locations include sites at Morgantown and McLaurin elementary schools.