Now quiet, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County’s Adairsville and Cartersville units will soon be bustling with energy.
Closed since March 13, the nonprofit’s facilities will reopen Monday. Its Summer Program will be presented through July 17.
“We began our reopening process with extensive dialogue with our staff, board, and private, municipal and corporate partners," said Gordon Gilley, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. "In making the decisions, we considered the gating requirements, the governor’s executive orders, health and human services requirements and guidelines. We are taking every precaution possible to provide a healthy and safe environment.
“Although we never ceased serving our members, we are excited to be able to offer our regular Summer Program. We're excited and thankful that we're going to be able to serve ‘in club’ because we recognize along with the physical safety of our members, their emotional well-being is equally important. Our clubs play a vital role in that part of their development.”
Exercising caution, the nonprofit will follow various health and safety measures this summer, some of which include a personal health screening and questionnaire for members daily upon entry, smaller groups, no visitors and “extensive and continuous cleaning and sanitation” of the facilities. The units also will be closed June 29 to July 3 for deep cleaning.
To obtain details or sign up one’s child for the summer session, call the Cartersville Unit at 770-382-2552 or the Adairsville Unit at 770-773-7333.
While the summer offering costs $50 per member, Gilley said “no child will be turned away due to inability to pay” and scholarships are available. After capacity is reached, children will be placed on a waiting list.
“We will have to limit the number of club members who are able to participate due to the distancing requirements,” said Matthew Gambill, board chairman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. “Priority is being given to our long-time club members first and if space is available for additional youth we will accommodate.
“Staff will modify activities and use the necessary sanitizing procedures to operate. One thing I love about our clubs is that Gordon Gilley and our entire staff is always so creative and dedicated to persevering in spite of challenging obstacles. This has been a constant theme since we first opened our doors here in Bartow in the late 1980s.”
Initially occupying the Goodyear Clubhouse in the Atco community, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County now features two locations — 642 Henderson Drive in Cartersville and 104 N. Main St.in Adairsville. During the school year and the summer, the units offer youth ages 6 to 18 educational and cultural opportunities, and activities, like basketball, and arts and crafts.
“Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County offer tested, proven and nationally recognized programs in five core program areas that closely align with the developmental needs of all young people: Character and Leadership Development; Education and Career Development; Health and Life Skills; The Arts; Sports, Fitness and Recreation,” Gambill said. “Simply put, our Clubs change lives. Every year, we continue to be the largest provider of after-school programming in Bartow County and we have done this without fail for over 30 years.
“We continue to grow and expand our reach and I am excited about the opportunity to expand service down in the Emerson/Allatoona area. Regardless of the impact of COVID-19, the need for our services will not decrease.”
Prior to temporarily closing its doors due to the pandemic, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County served about 235 children a day with its after-school program at its Adairsville facility and Cartersville Unit. While members sheltered in place, the nonprofit provided a virtual club, offering a wide array of online content.
“During the shelter-in-place, we didn’t shut down like some of the other Boys & Girls Clubs in other communities,” Gambill said. “We chose to be proactive and do the best we could under the circumstances. Our staff did an amazing job with real-time activities online demonstrating activities that club members could do from home with little to no budget.
“I will never forget them demonstrating how to make ice cream in a bag, hand sanitizer and other science-oriented projects. This is just a few examples of many. They did these activities while also reinforcing key academic concepts, making it fun and continuing to do what they do best, which is serving our club members.”
Noting the nonprofit’s mission is to “inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens,” Gilley shared “as extensive as our efforts were in distance serving, nothing compares to an ‘onsite’ club experience,” where “life-enhancing, altering, and at times, life-saving services are offered daily.”