Boys and Girls Club receives grant

Published 11:47 pm Friday, February 17, 2012

The Boys and Girls Club Suffolk unit recently received a grant from AT&T to help improve the teen program. After posing for a few serious photos with the big check, the program participants wanted to take a “silly” shot. With them are AT&T representative Vince Apruzzese, center, program director Reggie Carter, kneeling right, and board co-chair Michael Debranski, kneeling left.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia recently received a grant of more than $20,000 to use for programs in Suffolk and on the Eastern Shore.

The $20,160 grant will enable the units to expand the Keystone Club program, which serves students ages 14 to 18. The Keystone Club teaches teens principles of leadership and citizenship by having club members elect their own officers, run their own meetings and conduct activities in the areas of academic success, career exploration and community service.

“We are thrilled to receive this contribution,” said David Zobel, executive director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia. “The funds will allow us to offer a stronger program for teenagers, which will include using computer technology in Keystone Club projects and enabling club members to take field trips to college campuses and arts venues.”

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Vince Apruzzese, AT&T regional vice president for external affairs in Virginia, visited the club at John F. Kennedy Middle School on Thursday to present a check.

“It is critically important for students in Southeast Virginia to have access to programs that help them see first hand the importance of staying in school and focusing on academics,” Apruzzese said. “Our contribution to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia will give teens in the area another tool to help them prepare for a lifetime of success.”

In addition to expanding after-school programming, the contribution will help cover expenses for college and career exploration programs, including visits to colleges and educational sites such as museums.

The Suffolk unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs meets at John F. Kennedy Middle School every day after school. It accepts students ages 6-18 from any school. The program is open until 8 p.m. and provides dinner with food from the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, structured activities, gymnasium time, homework help and more.

Zobel said the organization hopes to talk to teens to find out what types of activities would attract them to the program.

“We have to sit down with teenagers and say, ‘What will get you to come here three or four times a week?’” Zobel said.

Apruzzese said the grant program aims to give back to the communities served by AT&T and also help improve the skill sets of young people who will be entering the workforce in a few years.

“That’s part of what this is all about,” Apruzzese said. “It’s a cliché, but they are our future.”

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club, call 934-0349 or 934-6219.