Jon York

Over the past couple of months, our nation has faced a myriad of uncertainties as we grapple with the impact the coronavirus has had on our lives and those around us. Our ability as a nation to put aside our differences and help our fellow man is something to be celebrated and not forgotten.

I have the honor of witnessing the difference people can make in their communities firsthand as the Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Rush County. We knew the uncertainties our kids face every day would get even worse as this public health crisis grew. Our kids already face the uncertainty of where their next meal will come from. They already face gaps in educational attainment and achievement. The families we serve already struggle with accessing childcare. You could only imagine how this pandemic heightens those uncertainties.

Indiana Boys & Girls Clubs are well positioned to address the challenges our children face during these unprecedented times with COVID-19 interference. We have been providing educational support and summer learning loss prevention programs as a part of our mission. Indiana Kids, founded in 2006, is a comprehensive youth development skill building program that assists Hoosier children and teens with afterschool and summer support. In addition to reading and math instruction, children are also learning about college, career, job readiness, workforce skills development, leadership development and volunteerism. We have served more than 66,000 Hoosier children and teens since inception. We have been notified that the Indiana Kids funding will be terminated at the end of September 2020.

The Boys & Girls Club of Rush County’s Indiana Kids participants had an average increase of 47% in reading and 54% in math during the last program year. Also, 100% of participants who completed the program improved their reading and math scores by at least 15%. The number of participants in the program, career sessions completed, volunteers hours served, work force development hours logged, drug and alcohol prevention sessions attended and participants completing the program were all record highs for us during the 2018-2019 year.

The Boys & Girls Club of Rush County’s commitment to not only the youth we serve, but our community as a whole only gets stronger in times of crisis. We recognized that this pandemic was going to have devastating effects throughout our area and that we as local leaders were uniquely positioned to do all we could to help. It’s why we pivoted to handing out suppers when we could not be open to serve children in our building. We handed out more than 3,500 meals and snacks during that time. We made calls to our families to see how they are doing and what services they need from us. On June 1, we opened our building back up to provide an enriching, safe summer camp option for parents who need childcare. We are open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

But that resolve can only get us so far as we face lost revenue and financial instability as demand for our services increase. And we’re not the only nonprofit facing a financial quandary of how we can continue to provide critical services and aid to our community while also keeping our doors open, staff compensated, and resources stocked. I can’t stress enough the dire support nonprofits such as ours need if we are to not only continue to serve our community, but help our nation recover once this is over. It’s not only how we respond to a crisis, it’s how we rebuild following it as well.

I urge every member of our community to reach out to their state legislators and Governor to provide relief for non-profit organizations and funding for critical programs like Indiana Kids. By speaking with a united voice, together we can ensure that the youth development, health and community-building programs in our area continue to be supported and our communities can continue to thrive.

Nonprofits are a constant and comforting presence during crises and will continue to be, but we can’t do it without the support of our community and elected officials. Please tell our state legislators and Governor Holcomb: Nonprofits support us in times of need, let’s support them in theirs. Restore Boys & Girls Club funding.

Jon York is the Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Rush County.

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