‘Reggie’s club’ fills a need in Suffolk

Published 10:10 pm Friday, September 28, 2012

By Dave Zobel

Think back to your childhood. Who was important to you growing up, in addition to your parents? A teacher? A coach? A church youth group leader? Who encouraged you and inspired you, day after day, to do well in school, make friends, and learn some manners?

For 208 boys and girls who live in Suffolk, it’s Reggie Carter. Reggie is the Unit Director of the Suffolk Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia. Every weekday, from the time school lets out until 8 p.m., Reggie is at the Suffolk Unit that operates out of John F. Kennedy Middle School, welcoming Club members and keeping them safe in an after-school program focused on achieving academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles.


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Want to make sure your child does his or her homework each day after school? Send them to Reggie’s Boys and Girls Clubs. Every day, the Power Hour is the time for club members to get their homework done with the encouragement and help of Reggie and his staff of five youth mentors.

Want your child to play, have fun reading in a group, and create masterpiece works of art? Send them to Reggie’s Boys and Girls Clubs, where fitness, reading proficiency, and art play are key rotations in the weekly club schedule.

Does your teenager answer the question, “What do you want to do?” with the traditional teenage answer of “I don’t know”? Try out Reggie’s club, where teenagers go on college tours twice a year to explore what’s waiting for them after they graduate, on-time, from high school.

Where else can you keep kids engaged after school at a cost to families of $15 per month per child? And that cost includes a nutritionally balanced dinner for each club member every afternoon at 4:30 p.m. as part of the Kids Café program.

The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia prepares the weekly menus and delivers the food to the Suffolk Unit. School cafeteria workers prepare each meal and serve it to our club members. Reggie’s club served 10,942 meals and 3,219 snacks to his boys and girls in 2011.

There’s more, but that’s a quick sampling of what Reggie offers to his club members, every day after school and all day during the weekdays of summer.

But the most important ingredients are Reggie and his staff members. Every day, they encourage club members to have fun, play well with others and do well in school. Who can underestimate the positive impact of an adult greeting a child by her first name, with a smile, and asking how her day has been? It will pay dividends many years down the road.

If you are a two-parent family, working hard to raise your family and give your children a better future, Boy and Girls Clubs is a great service. If you are a single mother struggling to make ends meet, it’s your lifeline.

This is a model that works. A Boys and Girls Club is not something that has to be tested to see if it works. Boys and Girls Clubs have been around for 106 years across the country, and your club here in Suffolk can be the answer to the problems we read about so often in newspapers — teenage crime, gangs, childhood obesity, poor academic performance, lack of civility.

We just have to support the club to keep it open. You can do that today at Constant’s Wharf Park, from 5 to 8 p.m., where the Board of Directors of the Suffolk Unit of Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia is hosting its third annual Barbecue and Oyster Roast.

Reggie will be there. Come and meet him and some of his Club members and ask them how their day has been.

Dave Zobel grew up in Virginia Beach and left a successful law practice to take the position of executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia. Email him at dzobel.bgcseva@cox.net.