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|Boys and Girls Club to return to Monroe|
Boys and Girls Club programs are coming back to Monroe thanks to an agreement between the city and the national organization, which was approved Tuesday by the Monroe City Council.
The agreement will allow the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Louisiana to use the Henrietta Johnson Community Center and B.J. Washington Boxing and Fitness Center for after-school and summer programs.
Tom Morris, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Louisiana, said the city of Monroe recently approached the organization to bring back the programs to the Monroe area.
The Tri-District Boys and Girls Club, which provided these services in Monroe, lost its charter from the Boys and Girls Club of America in 2006.
Morris said the services at the two Monroe community centers will focus on after-school tutoring during the school year, but there also will be plenty of other programs as well as fun and games.
Many of the Boys and Girls Club activities are geared toward encouraging healthy behaviors and promoting life skills. Some programs are aimed at preventing obesity in children, while others deal with Internet safety as well as using computers for educational purposes.
Starting next week, the two Monroe community centers will begin signing up youth ages 5 to 18 for participation in Boys and Girls Club activities.
Morris also plans to hold community meetings with parents of the children to determine which programs and activities they would like to see provided.
The organization will expand its staff to at least two additional people for each community center. Volunteers also will be needed for each facility.
Morris is excited that Boys and Girls Club programs will be offered again to Monroe children, and he believes it is greatly needed.
"We popped in one day at Henrietta Johnson and we saw less than 30 kids there and they were all in the gym playing ball," Morris said. "Nobody was in the game room or the labs.
"If more programs were offered there, we expect the attendance will rise, and that's what the city wants. We are honored that we've been asked to join their community, and we're excited about this opportunity."
Morris expects hundreds of children will use the facilities once the Boys and Girls Club programs get started.
"When you look at the demographics of these areas, there are a lot of children out there," Morris said. "We've got five schools within miles of Henrietta."
The agreement approved Tuesday during the city council's regular meeting will stand for three years. After three years, the city will determine if it wants to continue its partnership with the Boys and Girls Club.
"We hope to prove to the city that the Boys and Girls Club is what every community center needs," Morris said.
The city will provide the facilities and utilities for the organization to conduct its daily programs and activities.
The Boys and Girls Club currently has a state contract to expand to the Monroe sites. Club officials also are working on grants to keep the services in the Monroe area, and Morris said the club will rely on the city to help secure future grants for those services.
Other communities, including Tallulah, Winnsboro and Richwood, have expressed interested in having the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Louisiana launch programs at community centers in those towns.
For more information or to volunteer at the new sites, call the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Louisiana at 323-1644.