The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club on Alston Avenue in Durham has been serving the community since 1933, and since then, the program has contributed to major accomplishments for local children.
The programs at the club have helped the children reach their full potential effectively. The goal of the Boys and Girls Club is for the staff to be role models for the youth and instill in them the necessary tools they need as individuals to succeed in life as well as in the classroom.
The Boys and Girls Club is a year-round program that works with kids ages 5-18.
Through core programs, the club promotes academic success, character-building, strong leadership skills, and encourages healthy lifestyles for all participants.
“For example, under academic success, Monday through Thursday we have a tutoring and homework help program called ‘Power Hour’ which is 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes. The object of the program is to make sure they understand their homework, not necessarily finishing all their homework,” said Joshua Dorsette, executive athletics director.
Dorsette says this is a big-time outlet for this community because the neighborhood children’s uncles, cousins, and older brothers came through here at one time. So, the Boys and Girls Club is respected in this community, and it is due to the staff.
According to employees, club efficiency and effectiveness makes it such an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone.
“I built the basketball program through the Boys and Girls Club and I just tied in the Boys and Girls Club programs like the academic piece and the character piece. This is how I got kids to come to the Boys and Girls Club after school,” said Dorsette. “Everything we did we connected basketball through it. For example, the kids had to come to three of the four days of tutoring or you would miss the first quarter of the game.”
“The people I work with here have wonderful, wonderful energy — and Dorsette has a great eye for how to be attentive to his staff and to the children and how to get the job done, which leaves everyone working together,” said Claudia Green, outreach director. “I am honored to be working over here whenever I can and be a helping hand when it comes to helping staff members and helping this whole group effort on how to work and address children.”
“The Boys and Girls Club is a great place free from the surrounding neighborhoods. This gives the kids a place so they can stay out of trouble, and we give them activities to do, like arts and crafts,” said Tara Matthews, program aide. “We are trying to make them better for the future, and I don’t want to say culturally dependent; I want to make them understand where they come from is not where they have to go.”
The devotion and appreciation in the Boys and Girls Club is why some employees give acknowledgement and thanks.
Even though the community has its fair share of gang violence and disturbances that create a hostile environment for the children sometimes, one of the club’s rules is not to be gang affiliated.
Since the club is a place of positivity, there has been an absolute change in the children who come through.
“I have been here 12 years and it usually takes four to six months to see a change,” said Dorsette. “However, it is not just me that helps the children — it is the rest of the staff as well.”
Dorsett says about 75 percent of the kids at the club have been there for about 3 years.
“It not just because of me; it’s the rest of the staff… we have a good relationship,” said Dorsette. “Now, the older you get, the more you start seeing teenagers, 7th graders, and 8th grade preteens once or twice a week — and that’s a good thing because that means they are getting active with things after school like cheerleading and football.”
Although employees at the club worry about gang activity, they choose to focus on proud accomplishments such as the basketball program.
The team started in 2010. Last year the Boys and Girls Club sent 11 kids to college, and out those students, seven went on to play basketball at their respective colleges or universities.
So, looking at what the club has done just in one year is a huge accomplishment.
However, the next step for the Boys and Girls Club is education. Some students in the club have graduated from high school secured athletic scholarships in college, and now the club wants to focus on academic scholarships as well.
“The focus is to see what kids are reading on a 3rd grade reading level and see what we can do to better them as a reader,” Dorsette said. “If you’re in the 4th grade and you are reading on a 2nd grade reading level, we need to get you to the 3rd grade reading level by the end of the school year.”