A place for college bound teens at the Boys & Girls Club
Boys & Girls Club Report
Submitted photo Ely Hernandez and Kayla Wilson join College Bound on one of its weekly campus tours.
Sonoma Valley teens have not historically viewed the Boys & Girls Club as a place for them. But in the past two years that has dramatically changed.
Significant progress toward teen outreach was made in 2009, followed by major strides in 2010 when the club brought on Teen Services Director Robin Eurgubian as a full-time staff member dedicated to teens. Eurgubian came to the club with a master’s degree in school counseling, as well as program-building experience with the YWCA and Upward Bound. “Creating teen programs that address personal, social, career, and college needs,” said Eurgubian, “is the basic model of the Boys & Girls Club Teen Program. We meet each student where they are to create individualized goals.”
With 300 teens enrolled, Teen Services encompasses everything from dances to cooking classes, but its major push in the past year has been the College Bound Program.
After receiving the first Impact 100 grant last summer, the club geared up to provide individual advising meetings, college prep workshops and career-related field trips. A proper kick-off event was held last September to motivate its first 40 College Bound members and culminated in 76 registered CB members. At the start of this school year, its membership begins with 62 active high school students, and will grow to serve more than 80 Sonoma teens.
With a larger student base, there has been the need for more variety in activities. The club held break dancing and cooking classes, guided weekly hikes and hosted a Hawaiian-themed dance this past summer. And for the first time, incoming freshmen were offered a half-day transition workshop to prepare them for high school.
To conclude the club’s weekly summer college and career excursions, 16 students participated in a two-day trip to visit UC Santa Cruz and Santa Clara University, with some time to play at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Senior member Anelyn Burquez, who will be applying to colleges this fall, found visiting campuses before summer ended to be especially helpful. When she arrived at UC Santa Cruz, Anelyn’s face instantly lit up. “I could run up these hills every day,” she said. “I love it here.” Now that she’s seen the campus, she said she is definitely applying. “Going on these trips, especially career trips, makes me think that there are a lot of options for me.”
This school year is all about keeping up the momentum. The club will continue providing college advising meetings by grade level, with additional time for students struggling in courses or with time management. During October and November, Wednesday nights will be dedicated to seniors completing college applications.
New to the fall are High School Sports Club on Tuesday nights, Climbing Club on Thursday nights, and professional math tutoring Monday and Wednesday nights.
So why is it that our Sonoma teens are coming to the club in droves seeking the academic support they require to follow their dreams of continuing their education? The competent, caring staff that provides inspiration and become role models is one answer.
Another is the great need in this community that College Bound is fulfilling at the club. This program levels the playing field for each of these youth who demonstrate motivation and promise, but need that extra help to reach for their goals. It’s a large part of what continues to make the club a better place for our youth and the community.