Despite a global pandemic, the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem marches forward, creating space for communities to thrive
When New York City shut down at the onset of an unprecedented global pandemic, everything shut down and the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem – a community space that provides equitable access and opportunities for youth to unlock their full potential – was no exception. But Dominique Jones, Executive Director, was determined to quickly shift gears and find solutions to safely reopen for her Harlem community.
After school programs, like the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, foster a sense of community, encouraging kids to become responsible members of society. Jones is committed to helping kids develop a sense of agency and voice so that they may become leaders themselves to serve their own communities.
“Harlem reflects all the different walks of life…This community is probably the best reflection of the grit, tenacity, and resilience of our city. We don’t quit,” says Jones.
When schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem stepped up to provide resources for the children and families affected, especially those of essential workers.
“Many families may have experienced illness, or even loss due to COVID-19, including loss of employment. So, how can we stand up as an organization to be able to support those most affected at an unprecedented time in our lives?”
Jones believes that a consistent presence in a child’s life is critical to lead them to new opportunities and transformative ideas. A global pandemic was not going to stop that. From migrating to virtual classes to providing food access for families in need, The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem mobilized and reimagined the ways in which they serve their community. Their facilities opened up as emergency food facilities, and they’ve expanded their programs to promote good health and wellness habits for their youth – especially those impacted by the recent demands for social justice. They have also ramped up their online lesson plans (i.e., STEM Monday Plans) to provide families with ample learning materials at home.
Despite a global pandemic and civil unrest, The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem has proved that its mission has not wavered. Capital One is proud to support their commitment to the youth and the community of Harlem. Though the line between school and home is now blurred, The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem is still reinventing the ways they can provide their youth with an outlet and a safe space. The power of the youth is what inspires Jones – to her, kids define the meaning of resilience.
“They might be in a situation that is challenging, but they’re always searching for hope,” says Jones.
Source: Capital One