In a time of government belt-tightening, the caught a lucky break Wednesday morning when it was presented with a $100,000 check to support its health clinic and children’s wellness programs.
An additional $100,000 in Alameda County Measure A money will flow to the club next year.
Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan handed over a super-sized ceremonial check at the morning gathering. At the club along with her were Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, Alameda School Board President Ron Mooney, Boys and Girls Club President Sally Rudloff and the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year, John Hamilton.
The $200,000 comes from Measure A, the 2004 voter-approved Essential Health Care Services Inititative, which raised the county's sales tax by a half-cent.
Measure A funds will help provide what the club’s executive director, George Phillips, described as “one-stop care for kids."
“Our new facility, on the West End, was designed to provide a healthful environment for children — many of whom do not have easy accessibility to medical and dental care,” he said.
One component of that environment will be a health clinic staffed by local volunteer medical professionals, including physicians, dentists, dental hygienists and others who will provide screenings, exams and basic preventive healthcare education.
Children needing treatment will be referred to private local health practitioners, the dental clinic at the or to other support agencies such as .
“With our commercial kitchen, edible garden, gymnasium and a park next door, we hope to provide children with the tools they need to develop lifelong healthy habits,” Phillips said.
He said the club works to incorporate physical activity seamlessly into its programming. “This week we had a Frisbee tournament,” he said. "The kids were totally into it — not realizing it was designed as an aerobic workout.”
The Alameda Boys and Girls Club currently has 350 children enrolled, and they've been receiving 20 to 25 applications each week since the club opened the doors of its new facility in May.
Children need only be age 6 to 18 to join. There are no other criteria for membership and no child will be turned away, according to Phillips.
The facility is adjacent to Alameda’s largest public housing project, five Title 1 schools, a large Section 8 apartment building and the , a 200-unit housing development occupied by people transitioning from homelessness.
"Many of the youngsters we serve live in public or subsidized housing and often are being raised by a single parent," said Phillips. “These are kids who may not be getting regular doctor or dental visits and exams. Transportation is a huge barrier for some of these families, so bringing the care to the children in their own neighborhood is critical. Some of the children’s families may not know what services are available in the community or if they are aware of them, there may be other obstacles to them seeking care."
Pulling all of these health-related services together in one place at the club is what drove the design plan of the new facility housed on Alameda Unified School District property, according to Phillips.
Supervisor Chan, who presented the check, chairs the Alameda County Health Committee and is the former majority leader of the California State Assembly and was chair of its Committee on Health.
"I love the Boys and Girls Club," she said. When she heard the club was building a new facility but lacked operations money for important health care initiatives, she set about trying to secure Measure A funds for the facility.
Chan said she was incredibly inspired meeting the young people at the club and seeing it in operation during the event, and was especially impressed with the dental clinic.
"Dental disease and infections along with asthma are a leading cause of school absenteeism in children," noted Chan, adding access to dental care poses a continuing challenge for many families.
To learn more about the Alameda Boys and Girls Club visit the website here.
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