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B&GCSM: A great place for kids

Boys & Girls Clubs offer computers for members to handle homework for the next day.

September 12, 2013
Once the Boys' Club of Detroit has become much more than that to school children in Detroit and its suburbs.

Started in 1926, the goal was to provide development programs and sporting activities for children ages 6-18 (grades 1-12).

Professional staff, many who grew up at Boys & Girls Clubs, help children experience teamwork, concentrate on studies and learn skills that last a lifetime.

"The most rewarding part is witnessing lives being changed for the good, said Nick Papadas, vice president of development for Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. "For the most part, B&GCSM serves youth who are at risk of dropping out of school, joining a gang, using drugs, etc. Through the power of our programs, combined with the strength of our professional staff who forge positive, caring relationships with the kids in their care, these kids manage to beat the odds."

Papadas, with B&GCSM for 16 years, said many graduate with good grades, go on to college or trade school and secure a successful career."

Core programs cover the arts, character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills and sports fitness and recreation.

"Our clubs offer several different programs that not only teach youth important leadership skills and corresponding character traits that are integral to leadership, but also allow them a chance to utilize these skills by having them carry out community service projects, serve as peer mentors and tutors and help lead a small-group leadership 'club,'" Papadas said.

Leadership clubs include the Keystone Club (teens 14-18 years old), Torch Club (ages 11-13) and the Triple Play Sports Leadership Club (ages 11-18), the latter of which uses the clubs' sports teams as a vehicle for which positive traits, including good sportsmanship and fair play, are stressed.

The development programs also lead to higher success in the classroom. Papadas outlined three priority youth development outcomes deemed essential for children and teens to reach their full potential.

"The outcomes are academic success, a healthy lifestyle and good character and citizenship," Papadas said. "Clubs offer youth nearly two dozen different programs that include Power Hour, a daily homework help and tutoring program offered during the school year, Skill Tech, which helps youth master numerous Microsoft products and Youth Enrichment Activities, our summer program participants to practice those skills they learned in the classroom over the course of their long school vacation."

Clubs also offer after-school and summer programs to art and cultural institutions including the Detroit Institute of Arts and Orchestra Hall.

Residents of the Grosse Pointes and St. Clair Shores have always supported the Boys & Girls Clubs. Dozens of businesses also take part in fundraising activities, including the annual golf outing (see related story on this page).

"Many notable Grosse Pointe residents from past and present help support the clubs," Papadas said. "It includes many of our organization's founders who were illustrious politicians, philanthropists and auto industry pioneers from Detroit's golden age who live in Grosse Pointe."

The James & Lynelle Holden Club on Schoenherr Road in Detroit was named in honor of the Holdens, land developers who lived in Grosse Pointe. The club opened in 1970.

Papadas said the clubs rely on the support of many Grosse Pointers and residents of St. Clair Shores, who give generously and serve on the boards of B&GCSM.

Donations may be made to a specific club or to help all the Southeastern Michigan clubs, which serve 18,000 children each year. Secure online donations may go to bgcsm.org or sent to B&GCSM's administrative offices at 26777 Halsted Road, Suite 100, Farmington Hills, MI 48331.

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