No. 778



There are some parts of our country, especially out in the West, where sand and dust storms often occur. While I have never experienced this personally, I have seen these storms on television many times. If there is one thing people caught in these fierce storms often look for, it’s a sheltering rock. In many cases, a large rock can mean the difference between life and death.
The same thing is true for many of America’s youth who are caught in a storm of a different kind. In many of our larger cities, and increasingly in our medium size and even smaller communities, kids are killing each other, being robbed, constantly being exposed to drugs and gangs. To put it mildly, it’s just not safe.
We have one organization in our nation that is making a tremendous difference for millions of these kids, and that’s the Boys and Girls Club. These clubs (originally the Boys Club which became the Boys and Girls Club in 1990) are also a sheltering rock in the storm. Hope you have one in your community and, if not, something similar.
We have a great Boys and Girls Club here in our community, and recently the director, Robert Wright, came to speak to our local Lions Club. We are proud of the fact that the Lions Clubs International Foundation donated $50,000 to help start the club here in our community. Robert told us a lot of things about the work of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and he really opened our eyes with many of the statistics he gave us. It costs a child, or his or her parents, $25 a week to have a safe environment with meaningful programs, and no child is turned away, even if they cannot afford the small costs.
Why a Boys and Girls Club? His answer really got my attention. In America, every 10 seconds a high school student drops out. Every 25 seconds a child is arrested. Every 40 seconds a child is confirmed as abused or neglected. Every minute a baby is born to a teen mother. Every five minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense. Every nine minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime. Every five hours a child or teen commits suicide. Every six hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect, and every day 2,467 high school students drop out. This is not a column about literacy, but it should help you see why our “Bookcase for Every Child” project is so important, as we strive to get 4-year-olds hooked on reading by giving them books and their very own personalized bookcase.
For children who are fortunate enough to be enrolled in an after-school program of the Boys and Girls Club, here is proof positive that the program works. Crime and Substance Abuse: 67 percent of club alumni attribute their ability to avoid difficulty with the law to the influence of Club staff. Another 67 percent say the Club is where they learned to “say no” to drugs and alcohol. Dropout Rates: 28 percent report they would have dropped out of high school if not for the club, and 51 percent achieved a higher level of education than they thought possible because of attending the club.
Childhood Obesity: 80 percent of alumni said the Club had a positive impact on their attitude toward fitness and health; 74 percent of Club alumni report participating in organized sports. African-American Males: 73 percent of African-American male alumni said the “Club saved my life,” and 34 percent of African-American male alumni earned a four-year college degree, compared to the national rate of 16 percent.
I believe you will agree: Boys and Girls Clubs deserve our support.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

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