Community

Boys & Girls Clubs rebranding with expansion into Iowa City, Marion

Grace Francois, 11, left, Modestin Niy, 13, and Shukuru Niy, 12, sport baby blue #x201c;Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corrid
Grace Francois, 11, left, Modestin Niy, 13, and Shukuru Niy, 12, sport baby blue “Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor” T-shirts last week at an unveiling event and celebration for the new name for the Boys & Girls Clubs, which now serves Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Marion. (Grace King/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — For 25 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cedar Rapids has served students in the community, expanding into Iowa City four years ago and into Marion just last year.

The name, however, no longer suits the club, which serves 300 kids every day in Eastern Iowa. Wanting to be more inclusive, the club announced a new name last week — The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor — and will be rebranding with the hashtag #inmyclub.

John Tursi, executive director of newly named Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor, said the club name is reflective of their effort to “be inclusive of every one of the cities we’re in.”

“How do we show different cities we’re embracing we want to be a part of their community?” he said during an unveiling event and celebration for the new name last week.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor provides summer and after-school youth development programs for children 5 to 18 years old. It focuses on character development, leadership, education, art, health, life skills, sports and fitness.

The club also provides one meal a day to students and other basic necessities like food and clothing.

Membership to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor costs $12 a year, and 85 percent of memberships are paid through no-cost scholarships, Tursi said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs serve students like Modestin and Shukuru Niy.

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Modestin Niy, 13, a student at Roosevelt Middle School, is working toward a junior summer staff volunteer position with Boys & Girls Club. After school, he enjoys helping younger students with their homework and playing basketball with them.

“They’re happy, I’m happy,” he said.

Shukuru Niy, 12, said Boys & Girls Club is teaching him how to be a leader. Shukuru is also working toward a junior staff volunteer position and is a Big Brother to some of the younger club kids.

Once Modestin and Shukuru are old enough and trained to be volunteers, they will help run the programming at the club and, on Fridays, plan for the week ahead.

Callie Howard, 21, a unit director for Boys & Girls Club in Marion, started volunteering with the organization eight years ago. She loves working with the kids, she said, especially during the summer when she gets to spend longer days taking them on day trips to the pool or the movies.

During the school year, she helps students get their grades up so they can participate in athletics offered through the club.

Howard hopes the Boys & Girls Club in Marion, which opened in September at 440 S. 15th St., soon will be in a permanent site of their own. She said there are plans in the works to move to a new location once their three-year lease is up.

Michelle Wilson, social worker with the Marion Independent School District, said the club is helping students stay out of trouble and keep their grades up. Wilson was co-chair on the Marion Youth Council, which worked to bring the Boys & Girls Club to Marion last year.

“The community was seeing a real need,” Wilson said. “There were disheartening activities happening in Uptown (Marion), and the kids needed a place to go after school.”

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Already, 40 students from the Marion Independent School District participate in Girls & Boys Club. Wilson hopes to see 150 students participating soon.

Anyone interested in supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs can volunteer at one of the six club locations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Marion; support club families during the holidays through the Adopt-A-Family program; donate money to the club; or attend the Blue Door Bash fundraiser March 7.

For more information, contact the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor at (319) 363-5766.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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