Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 9:35 PM on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Boys & Girls Club space fills important need

Point of View

by Sage Thomas

I find it interesting that many other towns and cities in Alaska have a Boys & Girls Club that is given $20,000-$40,000 a year by its city, and I wonder how much our city is putting into our Boys & Girls Club?

I am a homeschooling parent who has an 8-year-old. We have been attending the club in town for the last year and are thrilled with it. When my child first started going she didn't know many kids and was a little nervous. The people and children there were really great about showing her around and helping her feel welcome.

It's amazing to have a place for children and teens to go and hang out, see each other and not have to pay attention to a class, not get in trouble for talking and a place where they feel free to be silly. Most of the kids who go are public school kids who get to see each other every day in a learning setting with only slight breaks to play. All those kids they see all day that they would like to know better — though at school it's learning time and important to pay attention.

After school, kids fling to their various corners of Homer and wouldn't have the chance to see each other and create amazing friendships. That is one of the great aspects to this facility, bringing all these kids together to have a good time, talk, play and be a part of a group. There is a gym, computer room and so much more. There are many great things to this club, and it is run by an amazing staff of individuals who all take time with the kids. Each one is easy to talk to and very helpful.

There are at least 50 kids going to the Boys & Girls Club right now and if there was more space and more rooms available, this number would only grow.

When we started attending the Boys & Girls Club last spring, we were surprised that the space stayed empty in the summer time, so much space to be used for so many activities to pull youth into being a part of something.

This is a space where kids can be kids and have a good time in a safe environment.

It has come to my attention that this amazing place is possibly going to close this year for good — unless there is an educational bid that meets the city's requirements. Is it possible to utilize this space for the youth of Homer? I know there was much talk about community and the importance of it, the importance of our children and how the teens need a place. The building the Boys & Girls Club is in could be that space.

There are many people in this town that would love a space to relax, do a messy art project, jam instruments, feel free to be a kid. This building would be a great space for the whole thing to be a Boys & Girls Club.

Considering most of the kids that attend the Boys & Girls Club are public school kids, whose parents are working until 5 or 6 at night (they even do homework time at the club for those who have some) will then need to find someplace else for their children to go. That costs $50 a week for those few hours of after school time, take that and multiply for the school year. That is $1,700 for just the school year. This place is an amazing resource for the community that we best not let disappear. For even if after-school care could be found, would the kids enjoy it as much and learn as much?

The city is here to provide its citizens with what we need and want, if it can be afforded. It is our job as citizens to be sure our city knows what we want.

What is the price of a happy, healthy, well rounded child?

Sage Thomas lives in Homer.