Thanks to Dogwood Health Trust’s ION grant, the aging air conditioning units at the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County Middle School Center were replaced in 2020. The organization also replaced the units for one of their 5th-grade classrooms, which was one of the original classrooms on campus. Additionally, they repaired a thermostat in the gym.
In addition to maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for the youth who participate in daily programs, ION funds resulted in the added benefit of improving air filtering and circulation in the portions of the campus that were previously serviced by the oldest a/c infrastructure. This improvement was especially advantageous as it turned out to be a health and safety recommendation from the NC Department of Health for child care programs opening to in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the summer of 2020, the Boys & Girls Club served nearly 250 members. These members benefited from several programs including the summer academic support program, Brain Gain. Through Brain Gain, students participated in daily reading, writing, and math activities to minimize summer learning loss, especially loss exacerbated by COVID-19-related school closures. In addition to this curriculum, teen members took part in several educational programs including STEM and Robotics, visual arts, and Money Matters, which is a program designed to educate students in obtaining employment, maintaining a budget, and saving for the future.
The Boys and Girls Club prides itself in mentoring its members to not only do well for themselves academically but also to take care of their neighbors in the community. During the summer of 2020, 133 members volunteered over 350 hours. These hours of service included writing thank-you letters to hospital staff, making placemats for Meals on Wheels clients, making pet beds and toys for the Blue Ridge Humane Society, and writing thank-you letters to a longtime volunteer, who initiated the food backpack program in the Hendersonville area and is retiring.
The newly repaired thermostat in the gym was put to good use, where 178 members participated in the Triple Play program. Triple Play consists of daily physical activities that promote healthy living in addition to soft skills such as teamwork and sportsmanship.