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United Way of Marshall County: Supporting Education through Boys and Girls Clubs

bremen_boys_and_girls UnitedwayHow are you at solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle, or building an outdoor shed or playhouse, or assisting with a community garden?  These are but a few of the educational activities offered on a daily basis for youngsters attending the Boys and Girls Club of Marshall County in Plymouth. And that’s just one of three Boys and Girls Club locations in the county supported by the United Way of Marshall County (UWMC). The 2015 United Way campaign is underway and organizers are busy telling the stories of the 24 nonprofit agencies supported by United Way. “Together, the Clubs in Marshall County are touching the lives of approximately 830 children each year. We know it makes a big difference especially for working parents who may not be home when their kids get out of school for the day. And you may be surprised at the types of activities that take place,” said United Way Executive Director Linda Yoder.

Billie Treber, Executive Director for the Boys and Girls of Marshall County which includes locations in Plymouth and Bremen, is quite excited about the project-based activities happening at the Club. Each enables the participants not only to learn but to enjoy themselves in a cooperative atmosphere while doing so.  Bill Deering, athletic director, recently started the Cubers Club with Rubik’s Cubes in order to improve math skills and gain an understanding of algorithms.  The introduction to the new program was a unique experience in itself for the youngsters as a VHS player and tape were used for the demonstration.  Although the program has only been in effect for only a month, several students already have solved some of the basic puzzles.

Other youngsters are gaining a valuable hands-on experience in the Builders Club.  At present, students are in the process of designing and building an outdoor playhouse which will be auctioned off at the February fundraiser.  Participants are experiencing the geometry necessary in a building project as well as the purchasing of the materials necessary to complete the playhouse.  A shed was built and auctioned last year.

Another project to help the youngsters learn by doing is the Club’s involvement in the Community Garden on Garro Street next to the park.  This project has enabled the participants to be involved with local master gardeners as well as the instructors from the Purdue University extension as they learn about healthy foods through maintenance, harvesting and the donation of the products to the Marshall County Neighborhood Center.  At least some of the impetus for this project came from a study indicating a high rate of obesity in Marshall County for children ages two to five years old.

Mrs. Treber points out the educational emphasis at the Boys and Girls Club is through modeling and “developing programs and projects that fit our kids.”  She also noted that character and leadership as well as health and life skills are closely intertwined with the education and career aspects of their program.

“All children, no matter what their background, need a loving impact” states Mrs. Treber, and at the Boys and Girls Club “we have to make that impact through our core program areas on the life of each and every child attending our program.”  Mrs. Treber has been involved with the local boys and girls club for the past 15 years (of its 20-year existence).

The Boys and Girls Club unit in Bremen has been in existence for six years and serves approximately 75 youngsters after school Monday through Friday. A number of educational programs are taught at this location too. Zoology 101 is teaching the participants about many of the world’s animals and their habitats.  CSI for Kids is a crime-solving program that even includes dusting for fingerprints.  The world of music is included in Music Makers and Amazing Artists helps youngsters work on art projects. Club members recently participated in a contest to name the new activity space provided for the Club by the Bremen School Corporation. The Kids’ Cave was the winning entry by Zeta Nunemaker.

In the southern part of the county, the Culver Boys and Girls Club (CBGC) is just as active. “We run a lot of fitness and enrichment programming in cooperation with Culver Academy that the kids thoroughly enjoy such as rugby clinic, French language courses, and connecting points which is a healthy lifestyles mentoring program” states Jessye Gilley, CBGC Executive Director.

“Some other incredibly fun activities we have going on in the near future are a color run, as well as Max Walk where we walk 10 miles around the lake. Last year we had six Club members participate and COMPLETE all 10 miles!” Jessye explains. They also participate in the local Purdue extension healthy eating program as well as run one of their own in house. “We provide all member with a FREE healthy snack option daily.”

“The Culver Boys & Girls Club is a proud member agency of the Marshall County United Way.  United Way funding allows us to offer our members the most effective and enriching programs possible,” states Director Gilley.  “In addition United Way allows us to offer a sliding membership scale tailored to the needs of local families as well as allowing us to provide free and healthy afternoon snack options.”

“TOGETHER We CAN, Marshall County” is the 2015 United Way Campaign theme.  United Way volunteers across the county are actively seeking support. Campaign Chairs Cindy Rash and Susan Wagner are leading the charge and asking everyone, “Please help make a difference in your community on these issues – whether that’s through dollars, your time or your voice. Only by working together can we help all Marshall County residents, children and adults, unlock their full potential.”

For more information or to make your online donation, go to marshallcountyuw.org, email info@marshallcountyuw.org, stop by the United Way offices at 2701 N Michigan Street, Plymouth, or call 574.936.3366.
ABOUT THE UNITED WAY OF MARSHALL COUNTY

For over 50 years, the United Way of Marshall County has continuously conducted annual fundraising campaigns in support of local health and human service not-for-profit organizations. The United Way has been the conduit for helping thousands of individuals, regardless of income level, contribute to a united community cause. United Way volunteers have spent millions of hours advocating for much needed programs and services that help build a stronger community and, as a result, the United Way has allocated more than $8 million to local agencies for everything from basic necessities like food to tutoring programs for youth to helping the elderly get to the doctor. The United Way of Marshall County remains committed to igniting the caring power of the human spirit to help meet the most basic needs of education, health and financial stability. Together we create a stronger future for Marshall County.

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