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Boys & Girls Club a possibility for Moriarty-Edgewood Schools facility

The Independent of Edgewood, New Mexico

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They say timing is everything. The time now may be right for establishment of a Boys & Girls Club in the area.

Moriarty resident Gabrielle Anaya is spearheading an effort, having recruited Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart and Torrance County Commissioner Lonnie Freyburger, among others, to see what it would take. The steering committee has been gathering demographic and economic data based on a checklist provided by Tim Sheahan, President and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Central New Mexico.

Anaya said she attempted it several years ago when her daughter was younger. "We had just moved back to New Mexico from Atlanta, Georgia where she was in the Boys & Girls Club. She loved it," she said. At the time she had no success, but Anaya never gave up the idea.

With the possible closure of school campuses looming for Moriarty-Edgewood school district, a facility may become available. That would be a huge selling point for funding purposes. Superintendent Tom Sullivan has said he would not want a school to be shuttered and would make every effort to find a high-quality use for facilities.

Sheahan said he is "excited at the possibility" of opening a club in Moriarty. The committee is moving quickly, and he said the right people are involved. According to Sheahan it typically takes six to 12 months to get a new club off the ground. Sheahan said he tells schools, "Your kids are our kids."

Boys and Girls Club offers after school and summer programs for children ages 5 to 18. Sheahan said they have a good rural model to work from nationally, noting that transportation is a big issue. Efforts are focused on three core areas: academic success, character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles.

Educational after-school programs include reading help, online learning and computer skills. Sheahan said kids vote on community service programs in which they want to participate. Teens may also tutor younger children.

One of the core healthy lifestyle programs is Triple Play, which emphasizes good nutrition, regular physical activity and improving overall well-being.

Annual costs to run a Boys and Girls Club range from $100,000 to $150,000, according to Sheahan. He said he wants to be sure a new club could be sustainable. "The last thing we want to do is open a club and have to close it in a year due to lack of funding," he said.

Typical membership fees are $30 per year per child. After-school programs cost $5 per week, and includes a snack. All-day summer programs may run $50 per week. Need-based scholarships are available; Sheahan said last year the district provided $25,000 in scholarships.

A local club would be managed by facility director, a paid position which would report to the central office in Albuquerque. Depending on the budget, part-time staff would also run programs, in addition to volunteers. Sheahan said all staff and volunteers go through background checks. He said, "The key is to provide a safe and supervised place for kids."

Sheahan, who has worked for Boys and Girls Club for 36 years, has been in New Mexico only two years. On Monday a new club opened at Emerson Elementary School in southeast Albuquerque. Sheahan said the program has 100 kids enrolled and another 100 on a waiting list.

Sheahan was recently honored by the national Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He received the Inspiration Award, presented to the "outstanding professional whose leadership serves as an inspiration and catalyst resulting in transformational change of an organization within the Boys & Girls Club Movement," according to the group's website.

The local steering committee meets again Dec. 12. For more information contact Anaya at 615-5262 or gabrielle.anaya34@gmail.com. General information may be found at bgccnm.org.



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Original Publication Date: December 4, 2013



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