Summer 2013 Upcoming Events
-July 8th Summer Camp begins and runs through August 9th
-August 12th-16th Service Camp
(All articles appear in the Sunday addition of the Daily American. Links with pictures can be found at www.dailyamerican.com)
11/18/12 Boys & Girls Club Celebrates
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach coordinator:On Thursday, November 15 the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County invited a few friends to dinner to say, “Thank You” for all the help and support they have given to the club and its members over the past year.
The 6th annual Thanksgiving Feast was held at the club located at 357 West Fairview Street and was the largest celebration to date. With about one hundred and thirty people in attendance the building was filled with smiling faces and full stomachs. The first year the feast was held, sixty-three people attended whereas, this year there were eighty-seven club members in attendance alone.
It was the first feast celebration for new staff member and Americops member Chad Bowers. “I thought the Feast was a great success,” said Bowers. “Everybody that came really enjoyed themselves, and club members were excited for the chance to enjoy the meal, and talk with all the guests,” added Bowers. Bowers joins the staff after working for ten years at the Children’s Aid Home Society of Somerset County Inc. as a Youth Care Worker.
Club members spent the weeks leading up to Feast working on creating decorations, making centerpieces, and designing place mats to help transform the club into a banquet hall, if only for one day. This year club members also took a hand in preparing some of the many delicious deserts for guests to enjoy. From pumpkin pie to chocolate chip cookies and everything in between, nobody left without getting a tasty treat.
The Feast gives club members the opportunity to meet some of the people who support the club with their time, resources, or their treasure. Club members and guests are seated together so members can personally thank those who make the club an place where great futures start, and for those who give so generously to the club can hear first-hand how their contributions are making a difference in the lives of young people in the community.
This year’s Feast was made possible by generous donations from several local businesses and friends. Interim Healthcare, Chuckwagon, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pine Grill, Mostoller’s Restaurant, Somerset Police, The Samler Family, The Johnston Family, The Pyle Family, Giant Eagle on Glades Pike, and Giant Eagle on North Center Avenue all made contributions to this year’s celebration. Boys and Girls Club board members John Wendel, and the Honorable John Cascio stopped in to carve the turkeys for the Feast. This year’s turkeys were cooked to perfection by Jim Mandichak and his staff at Metz Food Services, and served with the help of the Rotary Club and their members.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank everyone who made this year’s Thanksgiving Feast a huge success, and wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
11/11/12 Club Making a Difference in the
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County receives a great deal of support from those in the community, and without that goodwill, the club would not be here today. That is why when club members have the opportunity to give something back to the community; it is a welcome chance to say “Thank You."
Recently members of the Keystone and Torch Clubs, service groups within the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County, focused their efforts on raising money for two worthy causes and cooking dinner for some friends in need.
This past Friday, LuAnn Walker came and spoke to club members about the Nardecchia Foundation. Nardecchia is a non-profit organization dedicated to the spaying and neutering of local animals. Since “fixing” their first cat in 1999, Nardecchia has helped pay for the surgeries for thousands of local dogs and cats across Somerset and Cambria counties. Walker explained to members the importance of spaying and neutering dogs and cats, and the health benefits to animals for having the procedure. Nardecchia is committed to combating the canine and feline overpopulation in the community by assisting low income persons, and providing help to stray, abounded, and homeless animals. By spaying or neutering one breeding pair of animals 2,000 unwanted births can be stopped in four years, and over 2 million in 8 years. After her presentation, members presented Walker with a check from money raised during a penny drive held at the club, where all members were encouraged to bring in change from home and do a little to help out with a big problem.
Members also raised money for the annual Christmas Coat drive sponsored by the Daily American in conjunction with the Salvation Army. Every dollar raised benefits a needy Somerset County person. As the winter months descend upon the area, the money raised from this event will go a long way in making sure the cold weather is brings warm smiles, and even warmer hearts.
The Keystone Club will also be providing a Thanksgiving meal for the residents of the Next Step Center. The Next Step Center provides temporary housing for Somerset residents in need. The center provides emergency housing for those displaced by fire, flood, eviction, job loss, family crisis, or unsafe living conditions. Whatever the reason, the Next Center helps provide a helping hand in the toughest times, and assists in helping residents in getting back on their feet again. For the first time Keystone members will cook a Thanksgiving meal for all the residents of the center. Keystoners are encouraged to seek out service projects that will make positive impacts on the club and community. Club members chose this as one of their many service projects for the year knowing the impact it would have on those they are serving. After cooking the meal, they will deliver it to the residents and spend some time with them.The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is proud to be an active part of the community. By engaging club members at an early age in service projects, the club is building a strong sense of civic responsibility that will grow along with them. For more information about events and fundraisers at the club call 445-1802 for more information.
10/27/12 Boys & Girls Club Thankful for New
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:This Thursday the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County will be taking part in a National rally to highlight the importance of afterschool programming.
On October 18th the 13th annual Lights On Afterschool rally will celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon. The gathering is one of 7,500 such events taking place across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs.
As part of this nationwide celebration the club will be hosting an open house event with refreshments and tours of the club. Community leaders and members of the community are invited to attend and see firsthand what the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is doing for its members. With classes in cooking, robotics, computers, and art expected to be held, visitors will be able to ask questions and interact with members to learn more about the impact the club is having on a daily basis.
According to After School Alliance in a 2009 study, more than 15 million school aged children, more than one in four kids in the United States, are unsupervised after the school day ends. In that same study parents of 18 million children say they would enroll their kids in afterschool programs, if programs were available. These at-risk children are one of the primary concerns that Lights On Afterschool rally is designed to address. With shrinking budgets across the country events such as this hope to urge lawmakers and community leaders alike to realize the significance and importance of afterschool programs and the funding they receive as vital to the community.
In a study conducted by Columbia University in 2007 the average student who graduates High School earns over two hundred thousand dollars more a year than those without a high school diploma. If the club can help just 10 students graduate that normally wouldn’t that would add two million dollars to the economy over their lifetime.
Research demonstrates that students who attend afterschool programs are more likely to improve their grades, test scores, and overall academic behavior. According to the Editorial Products in Education Research, 26% of current high school students will not graduate on time. That means nearly one in four students will not graduate in 2012. That is a loss of 6,000 students a day, one student every 29 seconds and 1.1 million for the entire year. Afterschool programs such as the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County are instrumental in helping these numbers shrink, and giving members the foundation for a successful future.
10/21/12 Lights Stay on at Boys & Girls Club
This past Thursday the club hosted an open house event as part of a nationwide initiative to shine the spotlight on the importance of afterschool programs. The 13th annual Lights On Afterschool rally saw more than 7,500 programs across the country host events and invite elected officials, community leaders, and parents to come and see what firsthand the importance and the benefits of having afterschool programming in their community.
The Boys & Girls club of Somerset County was excited to have County Commissioners Joe Betta, and Pamela Tokar-Ickes visit the club. During their visit the Commissioners talked with club members and read from a proclamation declaring it as “Lights On Afterschool Day” for the county. In doing so the Commissioners not only endorsed Lights On Afterschool, but also reaffirm their commitment to engaging in innovative afterschool programs and activities that ensure the lights stay on and the doors stay open for all children afterschool. Tours of the club were given by club members and those in attendance were able to see first-hand some of the many activities members engage in while at the club. Classes included in the tour were cooking, robotics, and computer skills.
Today more than 28 million children in the United States have parents who work outside the home, and 15.1 million children have no place to go after school. The Boys & Girls of Somerset County is committed to providing quality afterschool programing for the youth of the area. The club looks to provide safe, challenging, engaging and fun learning experiences to help children and youths develop social, emotional, physical, cultural and academic skills. In providing a safe and productive place for children to go afterschool the club strives to provide the support working families need to ensure that their children are getting the attention they deserve. Afterschool programs build stronger communities by involving students, parents, and community leaders, in the lives of young people, thereby promoting positive relationships among children, families and adults.
Lights On Afterschool is a chance for afterschool programs to share their story, their needs with the community they reside in. The story of the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County could not be told without those people who give so freely of their time and their talents to its members. Volunteers make the club a special place to be, and are instrumental in allowing the club to provide many of the classes and opportunities that are currently offered. Sandy Worsham and Terry Dwyer are two volunteers helping to make the club a place where great futures start. Without their contributions, whether it is helping with homework, or baking some cookies, their generosity is greatly appreciated by those who work at the club and more so by the members they share their time with.The club would like to thank everyone who took the time to come take a tour and talk with staff about the club and the importance of afterschool programming for the area. For those who didn’t get a chance to take a tour, or would like to find out how they can make a difference in keeping the lights on at the Boys & Girls Club call the club at 445-1802 for more information.
9/29/12 Club Gets Some Help on Day of Caring
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: Having a friend that is always ready to lend a hand, pitch in when something needs to be done is a special thing to have. The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is lucky to have so many of these friends in the community. This past week a few friends stopped by this week to help with project that will benefit all the members of the club.
On Thursday, September 20th the United Way of the Laurel Highlands held the 19th Annual Day of Caring in Somerset and Cambria counties. The Day of Caring will see over 90 volunteers, representing 20 companies taking the day to visit United Way funded and other non-profit agencies. During this day volunteers work with members of these organizations on projects that will benefit both the agencies and those rely on their services. This experience is a special in that it allows volunteers to do something of great benefit in the community, but also gain firsthand knowledge of what these agencies are doing, and the benefits they offer.
This year four individuals from three local companies rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help build some much needed shelving units for the use at the club. Joann Suomela from AT&T, Mary Ann Felton and Ed Brandau from Penelec, and Tom Somerville from Eat-n-Park gave graciously of their time and talents to the club on Thursday to work with the staff to complete the project. “We are glad to lend some extra hands help local non-profits get work done they normally couldn’t,” said Sue Stevens, Community Services Liaison. During the course of the day the volunteers and staff talked about what the club is doing for its members, and how important it is to the club to have volunteers to put forth the time and effort to make the club a positive place for kids.
The mission of the United Way of the Laurel Highlands is to “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community.” In carrying out that mission they have identified five community priorities to best achieve that goal, by helping children and youth succeed, strengthening and supporting family, promoting self-sufficiency, supporting vulnerable and aging populations, and promoting health and wellness.The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank the United Way of the Laurel Highlands for their continued support of the club and its members, as well as those who volunteered and made this years “Day of Caring” a success. If you would like to learn more about the volunteer opportunities at the club and the difference you can make in the lives of children, call the club between 10 AM and 2 PM Monday thru Friday at 455-1802.
9/16/12 New Computers for Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:The Boys & Girls of Somerset County works to provide members with tools and knowledge that will enable them to succeed now and well in the future providing members with access to the newest technology, and teach them not only how to use it, but how to use it responsibly.
To that end, The Boys & Girls Club was recently awarded a grant by Comcast that allowed the club to purchase a variety of products that will give members access to the tools and information that will allow them to learn and grow in the digital age we live in.
The recently awarded grant allowed to the club to purchase twelve brand new laptops, software, a color laser printer, and a wireless flat screen television. These additions to the club will make a huge difference in the programs that can be offered, and more kids will be able to use computers and the internet on a regular basis. “Comcast is proud to support the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County and its Club Tech program, which is providing essential computer access and digital literacy skills for students, some of whom do not have a broadband connection at home,” said Comcast Keystone Region Senior Vice President Jim Samaha. “The Boys & Girls Club understands the importance of ensuring that all students are prepared to participate in our digital world, and the Somerset County community benefits from their ongoing commitment.”
Club members are required to pass an internet safety course in order to have access to the internet. This is done to educate members on the use of the internet as a tool for research and communication. It also teaches members the dangers that also may appear on the internet. Members learn how to identify these possible threats as well as how and who to report this information to.
Along with internet safety, members are given access to a variety of programs and utilities such as Photoshop elements, Picassa, Rosetta Stone, and Publisher. As part of the Club Tech Program members are encouraged to explore these tools in classes where they are taught how to use the programs, for use in school and at home. Through a series of activities and contests members are challenged to learn and master variety of skills designed to provide a foundation of basic computer skills. Also members are given access to computers during free time so as they can explore topics of interest, play games and Skype with friends.The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank Comcast for partnering with the club, and providing the grant that will allow club members access to the tools and information that will be invaluable in building a better future.
9/9/12 Club Kicks Off New Year
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:After weeks of planning and preparations the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County has begun their programming schedule for the 2012-2013 school year. Club members old and new alike came pouring through the doors on Wednesday as a new year of fun and learning kicked off.
This year the club is expecting to set record numbers in attendance. With an increase in both the youth and teen numbers at the club, staff is excited about the challenge and opportunity that comes along with that. “To see our numbers grow the way they have over the last year is very special to us as a club,” said Heidi Diehl, Americorps member and Keystone advisor at the club. “Not only are we able to make a positive impact on our members, but with greater attendance we can in turn make a greater positive impact in our community as well,” added Diehl.
In building relationships with the community the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is looking not only to support organizations and agencies that provide valuable services such as The Next Step Center, The Somerset Food Pantry, and The Humane Society, but also help teach members social and personalization skills that will allow them to succeed. These skills are invaluable in youth development. Young people benefit when they spend time engaged in structured pursuits that offer opportunities for positive interactions with adults and peers, encourage them to contribute and take initiative, and contain challenging and engaging tasks that help them develop and apply new skills and personal talents according to the American Youth Policy Forum, 2006. The club is dedicated to providing those opportunities and being an active member in the community.
Increased attendance also means that there are fewer kids at risk. The hours 3PM and 6PM are referred to by law enforcement officials as a, “danger zone.” According the US Census Bureau and the US Labor Department this is a time when many children, as many as 15 million nationwide, are left unsupervised, and come home to empty houses. These are peak hours for children to engage in illegal and illicit behavior. According to the study conducted by “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids” a bi-partisan anti-crime group comprised of local sheriffs, police chiefs, and victims of violence found that it is during this time period where kids more likely to engage in smoking, drinking and drug use. The Boys & Girls Club provides a place where children 6 to 18 can find a friendly face, and a safe place to go during these hours.The club would not be able to support so many members if were not for those who so generously donate their time and talents to the club. These volunteers help make the club a special place, a place where great futures start. If you or somebody you know would like to make a positive impact in a young person’s life, than the club maybe the place for you. For more information on volunteers opportunities at the club call 814-445-1802, and find out you can start to make a difference.
9/2/12 Tutoring Program Makes a Difference at the
Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:The buses are rolling, the classrooms are filled, and the new school year is officially underway. With a new school year new challenges confront students, and the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is prepared to help students meet and overcome those challenges.
The club is committed to helping all members excel academically. To that end the club offers homework assistance to all members Monday thru Thursday. The assistance given is meant to supplement the help received in school and at home to ensure that all students are progressing accordingly. However not all students learn at the same rate, or have problem subjects that require a little more effort to get over the proverbial hump. That is why The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County has worked tirelessly to build and expand on the tutoring program currently available at the club.
The tutoring program is entering its third year at the club. The program is designed to give the help where it is needed most. By communicating with parents and teachers alike, the staff is able to identify problem areas and provide the one-on-one tutoring that will enable members to overcome and succeed academically. Overseeing the program Tutoring Coordinator Emma Guardarrama . “Over the last few years we have been able to build a program that really makes a positive impact in our members’ lives,” said Guardarrama. “When you help a child succeed in overcoming an obstacle it gives them the confidence to work harder knowing that the extra effort they put in can and does make a difference, and that is something that they can carry with them their whole lives,” added Guardarrama. While working with tutors, members acquire the tools that will allow them to become better students in the future. Some of the benefits of personalizing learning are more time on task, improving study habits, and improving social and behavioral skills.
The club works in conjunction with Somerset Area High School in finding tutors for the program. A successful candidate for the program must be an Honor student in good standing with the school, and be in the 11th and 12th grade. Those selected receive a small stipend for their efforts.The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank The United Way of the Laurel Highlands and The Community Action Partnership for Somerset County (Tableland) for making the tutoring program possible. It is with their continued support that club members are able get the help that will start them on the path to a lifetime of learning.
8/26/12 Keystone Club Raises Funds for the Fall
This past month members of the Keystone Club, a service group within the Boys & Girls Club, held fundraisers to help get ready for the upcoming school year. A rummage sale was held earlier in the month and a car wash was held last weekend to raise money to help fund the clubs activities. The success of these two events will go a long way in helping Keystoners plan and achieve goals they will be setting this fall.
The Keystone Club is a teen program offered at the Boys & Girls Club designed to provide leadership development and unique opportunities for its members. Youth are encouraged to participate in and out of the club in activities that have a positive impact on not only the club, but the community as well. These activities are planned around three focus areas, academic success, career preparation, and community service. With the guidance of adult advisors, Keystone members are given the tools to plan, take action, and make a difference in the lives they touch.
In a 30-month Public/Private ventures study titled, “Making Every Day Count: Boys & Girls Clubs’ Role in Promoting Positive Outcomes for Teens” showed the value and importance of the club in a young person’s life. The study released in 2009 showed that, “youth were more likely to demonstrate greater positive outcomes in our priority outcome areas of academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles when they attend the club at least 52 times per year.” Furthermore the study goes on to show that the effects are even greater when attendance reaches 104 times per year. Simply by attending the club two days a week, two hours a day throughout the year can make a huge difference in achieving a positive outcome for a youth. The Keystone Club is one way for teens to get involved and begin to realize their full potential.
The success of the recent fundraisers was made possible by many people. The club would like to thank all those who made donations to the rummage sale. Club parents and members of the community alike graciously filled the club with clothes, toys, and unique treasures to provide a little something for everyone. Also the club would like to thank Scott Mostoller and Mostoller Fuel & Food for their use of their facilities for the car wash, as well as providing lunch for the Keystone members. Finally the club would like to thank all those who attended these events to either get their Yugos washed, or buy a pair of bowling shoes. The continued support of those in the community is truly appreciated and makes a huge difference in the lives of these young people.The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset will be open starting Wednesday, September 5th. The Keystone Club will be meeting later that week to begin organizing for the upcoming school year. If you would like to learn more about the Keystone Club, or of any of the programs currently available call 445-1802 for more information.
8/19/12 Christmas Comes Early at Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:Christmas may come but once a year, but at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County Santa is making a special visit a little earlier than expected.
This year the club is holding a “Christmas in July” donation drive in order to help prepare for the fast approaching school year. As part of the drive, a Christmas tree was decorated with festive ornaments, with each ornament having a “Christmas Wish” written on it. These “wishes” are items that club needs as it readies itself for the 2012-2013 school year.
There is a wide range of need as the club continues to expand and diversify its programming. From pencils and crayons, pots and pans, to a shop vac and Rubbermaid dumpsters are just some of the items being asked for. All donations, big or small go towards helping build a bigger, stronger club.
The donations received during this drive and all other efforts go a long way in supporting the club now and into the future. Not only do the items get put to good use by both club members and staff alike, they help defer many of the costs the club incurs during the year. These donations help make operating dollars stretch even further, and allow the club to pursue other areas of need in order to grow the club to see its maximum potential.
The “Christmas in July” drive is headed by my Americorp member Heidi Diehl. “I thought it was a great way to help start getting the items we needed for the school year, and show that spirit of giving is something that should be shared all year round,” said Diehl. “We are very excited about the upcoming school year, it looks to be the biggest yet,” added Diehl.
This year the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is looking at record attendance figures for the upcoming year. The club is at full enrollment to start the year for children ages 6 through 12. This coupled with the steady increase of the number of teens in attendance the club will be making an even greater impact in the community. This makes all the donations the club receives vital in sustaining growth and allowing the club to reach out to the youths who need it most.There is currently a waiting list for those interested in joining the club. All those on the list will be admitted as soon as spots become available. Admission is on a first come first serve basis.
8/5/12 EITC Program Makes a Difference at Boys &
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:It is hard to believe that in a few short weeks bells will be ringing in a new school year. Although many children around the area may not be as excited as their parents about the new school year, the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is working hard to make sure members will have the best one yet.
The club looks to provide a wealth of opportunities to its members so they can explore areas of educational interest beyond what may be available to them at school or at home. The club depends on various avenues of funding in order to bring outside instructors, as well as fund staff positions at the club. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program is a vital part of reaching that goal.
Through the EITC program a qualified business can fund the educational program of its choice. Rather than pay a percentage of its state taxes the fund can be given to an EITC-registered scholarship organization or an EITC-registered education improvement organization. “This tax credit allows money that would otherwise be used elsewhere to stay here in Somerset, and accomplish the greatest good for the kids who need it most,” said Barb Davies, Senior Vice President, Finance and Accounting at Wheeler Bros, Inc. Along with Wheeler Bros, Inc; Somerset Trust Co., People’s Natural Gas, First Commonwealth Bank, and PBS Coals have all made contributions to the club as part of the EITC program. Without the continued support of those businesses the club would not be able to serve the current number of youth in quality educational programs.
One of the primary beneficiaries of the EITC program has been the Arts program at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County. The money brought in by EITC has allowed the club to bring in numerous artists to provide instruction in variety of areas such a jewelry making, sculpture, painting classes, art history, and photography. Additionally, the club has been able to purchase art supplies and digital cameras to allow members to pursue a variety of subjects within the arts. Along with the arts, EITC brings professionals in from the fields of science and technology, and cooking and nutrition to enrich and enlighten club members in their respective fields.
The success of the arts program can easily be measured on the smiling faces of those members who are able to pursue their passion for the arts or who have discovered a love of learning and new experiences. The last two years’ works submitted to the National Fine Arts Competition have reached the national finals located at the Boys & Girls Club headquarters in Atlanta Georgia, winning in 2011, and placing two works in 2012. This not only a testament to the hard work and talents of club members, but the importance of the EITC program and the impact it is having.The Boys & Girls Club is currently at maximum capacity for the upcoming school year. The club is still accepting applications. They will be added to a waiting list, and will be processed the moment a spot opens up. The list will be first come, first serve. Applications are available online at www.bgc.somersetcounty.org.
7/29/12 Summer Wrap-Up
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: It seems like yesterday when the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County opened its doors for summer programming and began a trip through time. This past week saw that trip come to a conclusion as summer programming wrapped up.
This summer the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County saw over 50 members live, learn, and laugh their way through the programming schedule. With the help of a record number of volunteers, the club was able to expand on programming from previous summers, while at the same time keeping the member to staff ratio low. This made the summer all the more enjoyable for everyone involved. From jousting and building robots, to water balloon fights and a tribute to the Olympics, this year saw more kids, doing more activities, with bigger smiles than they ever before.
Recently the winners of the Boys & Girls Club National Fine Arts were announced. This year saw two entries from the Somerset Boys & Girls Club reach the National finals. Both entries were chosen at a regional competition to represent the North Atlantic Region in the contest. Donna Bergamassco ‘s “Blue Girl” and Grace Samlers “Self-Portrait” saw their works displayed at the finals recently held in Atlanta Georgia the location of the Boys & Girls Club National headquarters. Although these talented young ladies advanced no further, the fact that a club of moderate size located here in Somerset, competing against clubs much larger located in the metropolitan areas of this region, fielded not one but two finalist speaks volumes of the talent of those artists, and the quality of programming offered here at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County. “It was awesome to have my portrait make it all the way to the Nationals.” said Samler. “It will be something that I will always remember.” she added.
7/8/12 Building Leaders at the Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County in conjunction with Drug Free Communities held their annual Leadership Camp the week of June 25th. The camp was designed for youth entering the seventh grade and up, and allows them to meet local community leaders as well as take part in activities to build leadership skills.
This year 25 young men and women took part in the week’s activities. Those in attendance were given the chance to meet and talk with several local elected officials. The group met with Somerset County Commissioners John Vatavuk, Joe Betta, and Pamela Tokar-Ickes. The Commissioners spoke to the group about the importance of being an active member of the community and the role that elected officials play helping to sustain and grow a community. Later the group was addressed by Somerset District Attorney, Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser about how a court room operates, and the importance of the judicial system. The opportunity to meet and talk with these elected officials was a unique chance to ask questions and learn more about what it means to be a leader in the community. As a service project campers proceeded to the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department to wash the vehicles and clean the station.
The camp was about doing as much as it is learning. Laurel Hill State Park Ranger Kimberly Peck spoke to campers about many of the indigenous animals to the area, and led the group on a hike on the Hemlock Trail. During the hike the children were exposed to some of the many things that the park has to offer and learned the importance of conservation and the role it plays in the community. Later in the week the group was addressed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at the Quemahoning Dam. After learning about the rules and etiquette associated with fishing and boating, campers were given the opportunity to put what they learned into practice as they spent the afternoon fishing and kayaking at the dam.
The week closed out with a visit to Idlewild Park. The young men and women at the camp were not there just to enjoy the rides. They assisted in putting on the Clean Air Fair at the park that day. Campers spent the afternoon handing out pamphlets, painting faces, and educating people on the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. In the afternoon, the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County honored at a presentation highlighting the local efforts of the many groups involved in the fair. The camp was acknowledged for their efforts throughout the day, as well as their cooperation with Drug Free Communities in helping maintain and promote the Union Street Playground a tobacco free zone as part of the “Young Lungs at Play” initiative.
The week with these young people was a resounding success. None of that would not have been possible without the efforts of all those involved. The Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, the Somerset Borough, and Somerset Hospital all made contributions to ensure the camp would take place. Ronna Yablonskithe and Drug Free Communities led in the planning and execution of the week’s events, and without her efforts none it would been possible. SFC Bill Farris and Sgt. Aaron Stockwell of the Pennsylvania National Guard were instrumental in making the week happen. Farris conducted physical training every morning, led a class in map reading, while Stockwell led a class in basic first aid. Farris will be moving on as he takes another position within National Guard in Harrisburg. The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County and Drug Free Communities would like to thank Farris for his service and his time, and wish him the best as continues to serve our state and our country.
7/1/12 Lunch Program Starts at Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is very happy to announce that they are now part of a program that will provide free lunches to children 18 years-old or younger during the summer.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County in conjunction with the Salvation Army is one of several locations that will make up the Summer Food Program for Kids. This program will give children access to free lunches from July 9th until July 26th Monday thru Thursday. Lunches will also be available at the reduced rate of $3.50 for those adults who wish to purchase one. Lunches are served on a first come first serve basis. Those who would like to reserve a meal need to call the club at 445-1802, or sign-up at the Union Street Playground no later than 10 a.m. that day. The Summer Food Service Program is good, nutritious food that’s “in” when school is “out.”
This program was made possible in part by a partnership with the Salvation Army of Somerset. "The Salvation Army is pleased to partner with the Boys & Girls Club and other area organizations to provide the Summer Food Program to the youth of the county," said Holly Beckner, Director, The Salvation Army - Somerset Service Center. The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food bank and the Pennsylvania Department of Education are also responsible for helping get this initiative off the ground.
This is the first year that the club has been a part of the Summer Food Program for Kids. “This is a great opportunity for the club to give back to the community that has been so supportive of the club’s mission,” said Heidi Diehl, Americorps member who is helping to oversee the program. “Not only do we get to provide healthy, nutritious meals for those who need it, but we get a chance to introduce the club to those who may not know that we are here, and what we do at the club,” added Diehl.
6/11/12 Community Leaders Look to Protect Children’s Health
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:On Thursday May 31st the Somerset County Board of Commissioners visited the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County in cooperation with Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett’s statewide decleration in protecting the health of children throughout the community.
Governor Tom Corbett has declared the month of May “Protect our Children from Tobacco Smoke Pollution Month” and the County Commissioners were on hand to sign a proclamation declaring the same for Somerset County. At the ceremony held at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County Commissioners Pamela Tokar-Ickes, John Vatavuk, and Joe Betta read the proclamation for those in attendance, and proceeded to share with club members the importance of remaining tobacco free, and the dangers of tobacco use.
Before the reading and signing of the proclamation, Ronna Yablonski of Drug Free Communities presented Borough Manager Ben Vinzani with a certificate thanking him for his work stregthening the existing ordinance prohibiting tobacco use on the Union Street Playground as part of the “Young Lungs at Play” initiative. During a campaign earlier in the year, club members petitioned the Bourough to support the “Young Lungs at Play” initiative; by making posters, signing petitions and writing letters to borough officials. On several occasions club members met with borough officials to directly discuss the problems of tobacco use on the playground. The Union Street playground is an essential asset to the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County. Access to the playground allows for members to engage in planned activities that otherwise could not be done within the building, and of course gives members a safe place to play and enjoy all that the playground has to offer.
Through those combined efforts, Somerset Borough now appears on the honor roll of Pennsylvania Tobacco free communities. This list is to recognize municipalities and school districts that have joined with others from across the state to establish policies that protect children and families from the health and environmental consequences of tobacco use in parks, playgrounds and recreational areas.
Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals-- 200 are poisons and at least 69 cause cancer and other diseases. The Environmental Protection Agency has classified tobacco smoke pollution as a known cause of cancer in humans. The EPA estimates that secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 37,000 heart disease deaths in nonsmokers each year. Tobacco smoke pollution is especially harmful to young children. EPA estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year. Tobacco smoke pollution is harmful to children with asthma. The EPA estimates that for between 200,000 and one million asthmatic children, exposure to secondhand smoke worsens their condition.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank Pamela Tokar-Ickes, Joe Vatavuk, Joe Betta, Ben Vinzani, Ronna Yablonski, and Drug Free Communities for all the efforts in protecting the health and well-being of the community’s youth.
6/3/12 Robots Take Over Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: Building great futures at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is at the heart of everything the club does for its members. Recently members have been building those futures by learning how to build the machines of the future.
Recently club members have been given the unique opportunity to build and program robots by using LEGO Mindstorm kits. The LEGO Mindstorm series contain software and hardware to create small, customizable and programmable robots. They include a programmable 'Brick' computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and LEGO parts from the Technics line to create the mechanical systems. Club members of all ages were engaged in activity for months learning the basic principals in design and programming. Science, technology and math activities are becoming increasing popular with Boys & Girls Clubs members and the LEGOS Robotics are a terrific way for kids to learn engineering and programming skills. The members work with volunteers and use LEGOS Mindstorm software to build and program their robots.
This opportunity was made possible by a grant from The Somerset County Community Fund of the Community foundation for the Alleghenies The Somerset County Community Fund supports Somerset County projects that deal with the arts, education, economic development, children and youth, health and human services, heritage programs, civic affairs, religious, and environmental programs. Members of the advisory board stopped by this past week to see firsthand the positive impact the kits have had on members. After watching club members demonstrate what they have learned and how the robots work, those visiting were very impressed. “This is exactly the type of program that Somerset County Community Fund wants to encourage,” said Lana Miller, a member of the advisory board for the fund. “Projects like this that are financially reasonable really make a lot of sense,” added Miller.
Club members who worked on this project gained invaluable hands on experience in a number of areas while constructing the variety of robots available to them. “Not only are club members learning while having fun, but they are doing it together,” said Heidi Diehl, an Americorps members, who leads the program. “To see how the older members are excelling in not only the building of these robots, but also in assisting the younger members by getting them involved in the building of these machines, has been really great to watch,” added Diehl.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, the Somerset County Community Fund and the Penelec Fund for the Future of Greater Johnstown, for making this program possible.
5/27/12 Volunteers and Partners Acknowledged at
Boys & Girls Club
On Tuesday, May 22nd the club held the annual Volunteer and Partner Appreciation Day, during which those who have given their time and talents to the club are acknowledge for their contributions to the club over the past year. These volunteers are crucial in making the club work, and without their efforts the club would not be able offer the wide variety programs that are currently available.
Those who the club recognizes as partners are instrumental in enabling the club to provide members with classes in areas they choose to attend. These instructors spend their own time in preparing and creating a curriculum that both entertain and enlighten. Although these individuals are given a small stipend for their efforts, they can be found more often than not donating extra time and materials to club. These partners inspire club members to go beyond what they learn in school, and provide the inspiration that can spark a lifetime of learning.
The club also took time to recognize the paid tutors who work with club members on a daily basis. These individuals allow the club to provide more one-on-one time with members, at the same time allowing the club to serve more children from the community. Their flexibility and ingenuity in working with club members to gauge what help a member needs, and the best method in which to do so, is pivotal in seeing that all members achieve academically.
The final group being honored was those volunteers who come to the club with their sole motivation being that they want to be there and they wanted to make a difference. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds and age groups from high school students to retirees and everything in between. Their collective efforts throughout the year and the support they give to the staff are invaluable.
On Tuesday all those who have volunteered one hour or 200 hours were acknowledged by the staff and members of the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County for all their efforts. Those in attendance were honored for their service to the club and received bracelets, key chains, and t-shirts based on their varying levels of service. They were also treated to an enthusiastic reception from grateful club members who were on hand to see these very important people acknowledged.
This year eight individuals distinguished themselves for their level of service to their community and their club by receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award. This award was established in 2003 to shine a spotlight on those who make a valuable contribution to the community, and inspire others to do the same. The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families, and groups that have achieved a certain standard and is measured by the number of hours of service over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime. The eligibility requirements are based on age and the amount of hours served. Each person attaining a level of service received President’s Volunteer Service Award lapel pin, a personalized certificate of achievement, and a congratulatory letter from the President of the United States. This year eight individuals and received this honor. Receiving Bronze were Nadia Bush with 63 hours, Sam Frye with 60 hours, and Grace Samler with 58 hours. James Bush received silver with 75 hours of service. Those achieving gold were Tiffany Rios with 100 hours, Nicholas Diehl 101 with hours, Madison Garland with 128 hours, and Shaina Frye with 222 hours.The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank all those have donated their time and talent over the last year. If you or anyone you know would be interested in volunteer opportunities at the club call 81-445-1802 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for more information.
5/13/12 Volunteer Group Visits Boys & Girls
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator:The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County hosted some friends this week who are always looking to make a difference in their community.
On Wednesday, May 9th members of, Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, came to the club to spend the afternoon engaging in a wide variety of activities, and sharing their wealth of knowledge and experiences with eager club members.
The visit by RSVP was made in part to recognize the third annual “Senior Week”, taking place May 7th through the 11th. Senior Corps is a national initiative to encourage citizens 55 and older to volunteer and use their lifetime of skills and experience to help met community needs. Groups such as RSVP, Foster Grandparents, and Senior Companions are made possible in part by the Senior Corp program. Senior Corps week shines a light on the powerful impact these volunteers make in their community, as well as encourage other older Americans to do the same.
The RSVP was founded in 1985 in conjunction with the Area Agency on Aging of Somerset County. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Somerset County provides placement service and support benefits to people age 55 and over who wish to serve their community by volunteering for one of seventy-seven organizations county-wide. Since the groups inception, they have spent more than one million hours volunteering in the community
The visit to the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is a great example on how two non-profit organizations can come together and work towards a common goal. “The collaboration between Boys & Girls Club and RSVP is of great benefit to both organizations,” said Debbie Baker, Project Director for RSVP. “Volunteers and club members really benefit from the activity, and this demonstrates the value of the theme for Older American Month, ‘Never too old to play,’” added Baker. The lifelong benefits of play can help develop and improve social skills, help foster relationships, and teach perseverance. Most of all, play makes us happy.
By helping others, older Americans are helping themselves by living active, healthy lives through volunteering. In fostering healthy activity those involved receive benefits far beyond the satisfaction of helping out those in need. These activities can increase strength and energy, while decreasing depression, and fewer physical limitations. With nearly one in every five Americans projected to be age 60 or older by 2030, a great opportunity exists to engage older Americans in service to meet critical community needs while contributing to longer, healthier lives.RSVP of Somerset County has over 600 enrolled volunteers, placed with more than 70 nonprofit public or private organizations according to their interests and abilities. If you are interested in learning more about RSVP you can go visit www.somersetaaa.org/rsvp.htm or email email@example.com.
4/15/12 Club Members Visit Club in Pittsburgh
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls club of Somerset County is part of a much larger community. Boys & Girls Clubs stretch across the country, with nearly 4,000 clubs serving some 4.1 million throughout the country. Over spring break some members of the club took the time to go visit another club, seeing first-hand how another club works, and meeting with fellow club members.
On April 5th, members of the Torch and Keystone Clubs traveled to Pittsburgh to visit the Sarah Heinz House, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The Sarah Heinz House is one of the oldest clubs in the country, and has been serving the youth of Pittsburgh since 1901. This facility is one of the first of its kind in the country designed to serve and educate the youth of the city, and the building that stands today is in honor of that tradition of service. In the 1930’s they became one of the first charter members of the Boys & Girls Club of America. The club is truly one of the pioneers of the organization allowing girls access to the club since 1903, long before girls were admitted to clubs nationwide in 1989. During their visit club members toured the historic facility, and were given the opportunity to enjoy some of the amenities that club has to offer.
During the tour of the facility club members listened to several speeches presented by Sarah Heinz House members including the 2011 National Youth of the Year winner Nicholas Foley. Foley presented his story on how the club impacted his life. “Since the first time I saw the place, I knew it was where I belonged.” said Foley. The National Youth of the Year is the highest award that the club can bestow upon a member. The award founded in 1947, celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and shown exceptional character and accomplishments. Along with Foley, Caitlyn Hamelinck the Youth of the Year of the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County spoke to the group about her experiences with the club. Hamelinck recently spent two days in Harrisburg competing for the honor of Pennsylvania Youth of the Year. Hamelinck was one of five competitors who were asked to give their speeches a second time in front of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.After listening to the inspirational speeches from their fellow club members, the youth were given the chance to enjoy some of the many features the Sarah Heinz House has to offer. Access to one of the two gyms was given to members to play a game of basketball, while others chose to enjoy the computer lab, play a game in the teen room, or relax in the pool. “Visiting the club was an awesome experience.” said Tutoring Coordinator Emma Guardarrama. “Exposing our club members to a different club environment and structure really inspired our youth to share this experience with club members back home,” added Guardarrama.
3/18/12: Spaghetti Dinner Supports Club Activities
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset is holding its annual Spaghetti fundraiser on March 30th to benefit the Torch and Keystone clubs.
Dinners will be available for pick up from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. at the club located at 357 West Fairview Street and will include spaghetti with the option of meatballs, salad, and a roll. The price of the meal will be five dollars. All meals will be takeout. “The spaghetti dinner is a great way to raise money and awareness for our Torch and Keystone Club.” said Shaina Frye. Frye, a Senior at Somerset High School, is President of the Keystone Club, and advisor for the Torch Club.
The club is also looking for donations of spaghetti noodles, meatless sauce, and monetary donations to purchase more perishable items such as lettuce and rolls on the day of the sale.
All proceeds go to the Torch and Keystone clubs. These are organizations within the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County that promote leadership and service among club members.
The Torch Club is comprised of children ages 11 to 13. Torch Club is a valuable tool through which club staff can challenge members to set and work towards goals that are of value to the club, and to the community at large. Torch club members are charged with electing officials and working together to implement activities in four core areas, Club and community, education, health and fitness, and social recreation.
The Keystone Club is made up of club members ages 14 to 18. This group provides unique leadership development and experiences for the teen members of the club. The activities in Keystone are focused on three main areas, academic success, career preparation, and community service. With the guidance of a staff advisor, Keystone looks to have a positive and direct impact on the Club, and community.
“The money raised by the dinner will be used to fund various activities for Torch, Keystone, and other club members,” said Frye.
One of the upcoming events for both Torch and Keystone Clubs is a visit to the Sara Heinz House in Pittsburgh, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of America, on April 5th. Members will be able to tour the facility, meet with other club members, and make use of the amenities that the Sara Heinz House has to offer. It is an important experience to all those involved as members and staff alike will be reaching out and learning about each other, and how the Boys & Girls Club is making an impact beyond their backyards.
If you would like to pre-order a spaghetti dinner to make sure it is hot and fresh when you come to pick it up, or to find out what the Torch and Keystone Clubs are planning to do next call the club at 445-1802 to place your order.
3/11/12: Americorps a Big Part of The Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County works to make a difference in the lives of all their members. In order to do that you must have a high quality people willing to give freely of their time and experiences and Americorps makes that possible.
March 10th marked the beginning of National Americorps Week. The week is meant to shine a light on the level of commitment and the extraordinary impact that members make every day both locally and across the country. One of the two main goals of Americorps Week 2012 is to connect members and alums from across the country to recognize that they are part of a nationwide effort. The second being to highlight the impact the program has had on critical issues facing communities across the country, and also the impact that these experiences have on the lives of their members.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is lucky enough to have two members of Americorps currently serving their terms of service at the club, Sherri Kistimaker and Heidi Diehl. These women are excellent examples of what the Americorps program has come to represent, and the club is a better place because they are here.
“As an Americorps member working at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset, I am fulfilling a desire to continue to work with youth and also incorporate civic engagement. It provides opportunities to stay connected to youth and the surrounding communities by volunteering at activities where other Americorps members serve, such as the upcoming Indiana University of Pennsylvania dance marathon,” said Kistimaker.
Both Kistimaker and Diehl have become invaluable members of the staff, and have made a huge impact on club members. They have taken the lead in teaching classes in the areas of Science, Cooking, Gardening and Art. Kistimaker and Diehl have been instrumental in organizing fundraisers and food drives not only for the club, but other organizations in community such as the Next Step Center and The Humane Society of Somerset County. “
“Serving in Americorps has allowed me to be of service to the community which is of great importance to me. However, to be able to perform this service at the club brings it greater meaning because I believe so deeply in what the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset is doing and the impact it can have on these young people’s lives.” said Diehl.
The Americorps program is a national initiative started to offer opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to make a difference in their community. Members address critical needs in communities all across America. Americorps offers 75,000 opportunities Nationwide through a network of partnerships of local and National nonprofit organizations. The Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps, PMSC, is the local arm of Americorps. Members serve their communities in the areas of education, environment, public safety, and human needs and in return receive a living stipend, educational monies, and a wealth of experience. Located in Southwest and South Central Pennsylvania, PMSC provides service opportunities through non-profit or government organizations across a 12,000 square mile region. To date over 30,000 volunteer hours have been generated through the efforts of the PMSC.
If you would like to learn more about the Americorps Program visit their website at www.pmsc.org to find out what they are doing and how you can become a part of it.
3/4/12: Opportunity knocking at the Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is committed to providing a variety of opportunities to club members as to educate and inspire them to excel in a variety of areas. In order to provide those opportunities the club often looks for outside instructors to come into the club and teach a series of classes in their field of interest.
Currently the club is look for instructors in areas of the Arts and Science to lead classes with club members. Instructors are free to choose the subject matter of the class and all materials needed for the class are covered by the club. Forty-five minute classes are conducted at the club run from 4 p.m. to 6.pm. Monday thru Thursday. There are two classes per day with members ranging in ages from 6 to 12. Class size and ages of those taking the class is at the instructor’s discretion. Each class is only once a week, however the club is very flexible on the schedule of these special courses, so as to accommodate the instructor’s needs. Classes usually run over a four week period, and there is a stipend available per class.
The topics of these classes vary per instructor. In the past the club has had classes in cooking, principals of physics, pop art, mural design and painting, geo-sciences, photography, animal care, and creative writing. These classes are invaluable in nurturing and growing young people’s natural abilities and interest in a wide variety of subjects, contributing to a well-rounded education.
This opportunity is available to anyone who would like to help make a difference in a young person’s life. Instructors do not have to have an educational background, merely specific knowledge in area that they would be willing to share to a young generation of eager minds. From jewelry making, to building model rockets and everything in between, this a chance to share what you have learned, and inspire young people in ways that otherwise might not be available to them.
For those teachers who would like to go beyond what they can do in a classroom, or substitutes who are looking for a few extra dollars, and to build their experience with working with kids in a classroom setting this situation is ideal. Club staff is willing to work with you and accommodate your needs in any way possible.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is a place where great futures start. Those futures are brightened every time someone is willing to walk through those doors with something to share. The Club is now scheduling classes for March through the rest of the school year. If you or someone you know would like lead a class, or to learn more about the variety of programming offered at the club please call 814-445-1802 Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to find out where the next great opportunity may be found.
2/26/12: Fundraiser a success for the Boys & Girls Club.
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls club of Somerset Count recently held their fundraiser in order secure monies to insure that doors of the club always remain open.
This past Monday the 21st and Tuesday the 22nd club members and staff were out and about in the community dropping of bag lunches as part of the “Pig in a Poke” fundraiser. This year saw 580 lunches delivered to various individuals and businesses throughout the county, making this year’s efforts a great success.
Club members worked alongside staff in the days and weeks leading up to the event. Members of the Torch and Keystone Club were instrumental throughout the process, and played an important role in helping prepare and deliver the lunches. The Torch and Keystone clubs are organizations within the Boys and Girls Club that are designed to promote community outreach by helping club members organize projects to help the community at large, and to help develop valuable leadership skills. “Every one really pulled together, and without out the club members volunteering, and staff coming in and working extra hours none of this would have been possible.” said Heidi Diehl, Americorps member.
The “Pig in the Poke” would not be possible without the support of individuals and businesses in the community that made donations for this very important fundraiser. The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County would like to thank Snyders of Berlin, Aldi’s, Mostoller’s Country Corral, Somerset Candy, CVS Warehouse, Shane Shaffer Inc. Plumbing and Heating, and Jim Mandichak at Metz Food Services. Deliveries of large orders were made by group of volunteers that were comprised of parents of club members, board members, and friends of the club. Thanks to their support, and those who purchased lunches, the club raised $2,500 dollars.
The importance of fundraisers like “Pig in a Poke” and the upcoming Steak and Burger Dinner are vital in helping the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County not only keep their doors open, but also to grow and help meet the widening needs of the children of Somerset County. If you would like to learn more about how you can help the club, or about upcoming fundraising events you can contact us at 445-1802 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
2/19/12: Volunteer opportunities available at the Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is committed to serving its members with quality programming and unique opportunities that otherwise may not be available to them. In order to meet that goal the club often relies on a network of volunteers that are invaluable in making sure the club is a place where great futures start.
Being a volunteer at the club is a unique experience. The club offers a variety of platforms in which volunteers can interact and become a positive influence in a member’s life. In some cases it may start with helping a member with their homework. The assistance given can often mean the difference from a “C” to a “B” and a “B” to an “A”. The one on one time is invaluable in helping members build a solid academic foundation that will be of service to them now and in the future. “When we provide children with a supportive environment, a safe and nurturing place in which to learn and grow, we give them a chance to become the best they can be. Being a volunteer allows us to be part of this great opportunity.” said Karen Gibson, former Program Director and current member of the board for the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County.
If homework is not your thing, then maybe playing a game of pool or a board game with club member is something you could do. It is impossible to overstate the importance having positive role models in a young person’s life. By simply playing a game, and taking the time out of one’s day to come in spend time with these young people one can change a bad day into a great day. The thing that matters most is not what you are doing, but that there is someone there to do it with. “Sharing talents or time can make the difference in a child's life,” added Gibson.
Your duties as a volunteer are flexible, and based on your schedule and talents. Volunteer positions range from “drop in” volunteers who stop by for 45 minutes after work from time to time to play a game or study with a child to short-term instructors who offer 4 to 6 weekly classes in their hobby area, to daily aid who is relied upon as an extension of the staff.
Being a volunteer is about giving back, but at the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County more often than not it is those who come to give that end up getting the most back. “Volunteering is also the easiest thing I can do that brings the greatest rewards to my own life. I have been rewarded with a huge smile and thanks for helping a child pass a weekly spelling test because we practiced the words and I have also been thanked for helping a child make a bracelet that was given as a gift.” said Gibson.
If you are looking for a chance to share your time and talents, then The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County may be the place for you. If you would like to learn more about the opportunities available at the club please call 445-1802 and find out more about how you can make a difference.
2/12/12: Boys and Girls Club planning Fundraiser
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is looking to fill stomachs, instead of hearts and minds for a few days in February. The club will be holding a “Pig in a Poke” fundraiser on February 20th and 21st. All proceeds from the event benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County.
This lunch special will feature pulled pork BBQ sandwich with a side of coleslaw, a bag of chips, and a cookie for dessert, all for just five dollars. For orders of five or more delivery service will be made available.
The Pig in a Poke fundraiser is one of the few fundraisers the club has during the year where all monies raised go to directly to supporting the high quality programming that has become synonymous with the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County. Attendance at the club has steadily been rising over the past few years, and without the continued support from the community it would not have been possible to maintain, let alone increase, the number of members currently attending the club on a daily basis.
The fundraiser is truly a club effort. Club members will be working alongside staff, volunteering their time to make sure that this year’s event is bigger and better than ever. “The planning and work that has gone into this year’s Pig in a Poke is all worth it when you think how much this benefits the club and its members.” said Heidi Diehl Americorps member currently serving at the club.
None of this would be possible without the Shane Shaffer Inc. Heating and Plumbing and Jim Mandichak along with his staff at Metz Food Services. Without Shaffer’s generous donation of a pig coupled with Mandichak’s offer to cook the pork, there would be no pig to put in the poke. “This is going to take a lot of hands in the pile to make this a successful event, and we are certainly lucky to have the generosity of the local community to help make this all possible.” added Diehl.
The club has extended the deadline for orders to Tuesday February 14th. If you would like to place an order call the club at 445-1802 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. For those who will be picking up their orders you can do so at the club located at 357 West Fairview Street, adjacent to the Union Street playground.
2/5/12: Youth of The Year selected at the Boys & Girls Club
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset gathered recently to recognize two young ladies that go above and beyond to make the club a place where great futures start.
This was the first time in the Clubs history that a local competition was held for the honor of becoming Youth of the Year. A panel of judges graded the participants in a lengthy process consisting of interviews, speeches by both candidates, and an application which included personal essays, and list of accomplishments by each member. The panel of judges was comprised of Susie Bastian, Donna Cascio, Sean Isgan, Bill Meyer, and Jon Wahl.
Selected between two outstanding teens, Caitlyn Hamelinck will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members for the Pennsylvania Youth of the Year title and a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation. As the Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County 17-year old Caitlyn is a true example of an extraordinary young woman recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for her sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community. The runner-up in the competition was Shaina Frye.
Caitlyn has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County since the club’s inception, and since that time has been an integral part of the growth of the club. She was twice the president of the Keystone Club, a teen group dedicated to leadership and providing service to the club and the community. Caitlyn has also spearheaded many initiatives such as food drives and was a regional winner for the National Fine Arts Competition in 2011. Caitlyns actions have raised awareness of the club in the community at large. Her continued involvement in the club shines a light on the importance of afterschool programming and provides a great example of what young members may aspire to become.
Shaina is the current President of the Keystone club, and is also a valued member of the club. Her dedication to the club and its members is a model of consistency. Shaina is an active participant in many of the programs being run at the club. Aside from her Keystone duties, Shaina is also the advisor for the Torch club, and a tutor for younger members.
Both young ladies brought out the best qualities in each other throughout the event, and the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is very lucky to have two young people of such high character as members.
Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. As BGCA’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.
If Caitlyn wins the state competition, she will compete for the title of Northeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship from Tupperware Brands, the recognition program’s national sponsor. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2012 to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House. Local winners are also eligible for a full year scholarship to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1/29/12: Boys & Girls Club collecting for the Humane Society
by Matthew Hoke, Outreach Coordinator: As we approach the heart of winter, the Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is helping out those who have the hardest time finding a place to spend a cold winter night. In the upcoming weeks club members will be looking for donations for the Humane Society of Somerset County to help meet the needs of the animals cared for at this shelter.
The Humane Society of Somerset County is dedicated to providing shelter and finding homes for many of the dogs and cats that find their way to their facility. The circumstances resulting in these animals finding their way to the shelter vary. While some animals are brought in as their previous owners are no longer able to care for the animal in question, others are found living homeless throughout the county. Whatever the case may be the Humane Society of Somerset County cares for all of them, going to great lengths to insure that every story has a happy ending.
There is no time limit on how long an animal can remain at the shelter, and the staff works tirelessly to ensure that all animals are cared for properly. Those animals that can no longer be cared for may also find homes in the vast network of “foster families” that allow the humane society to care for an even larger population than their facilities will allow.
The caring and compassion shown to these animals is made possible in no small part by the generosity of those in the community. The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County is collecting a variety of items to donate to the shelter through the month of February. Possible items for donations range from the more obvious such as dog and cat food, pet beds, and toys for the animals, to household items like stamps, garbage bags, dish soap, paper towels and bleach. “I chose to support Humane Society as a service project fits in so well with the “Animals in Winter” series I am doing with club members.” said Sherrie Kistemaker, Americorps member serving at the Boys & Girls Club. “The series is designed to educate club members about the care and treatment of different species in the animal kingdom.” said Kistemaker.
Of all the things you can donate to the Humane Society of Somerset County, the one thing that would be most appreciated is your time. Animals being housed at the shelter require regular exercise. This in not only necessary in keeping the animals happy and healthy, but goes toward helping each of the pets find new homes. In working with volunteers animals become more sociable, they learn to walk on a leash, and they are taught to sit, heel, and other important commands. This calms the animals, and makes them more sociable, and by doing that they become more viable for adoption.
If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Humane Society of Somerset County, or you would like to make a monetary donation, you can find them on the web at somersetpets.com or call 443-2121.