Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula Needs Volunteers

Leila Taherian, Staff Wirter

The Boys and Girls Club of America continues to help communities across the country bridge the opportunity gap.

In Northern California’s Bay area, the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP) works with several schools throughout the area. Stretching from East Palo Alto to Redwood City, they provide the low income youth with opportunities and guidance they may not otherwise  have. The after school program leaves the students with life changing experiences, and ultimately, helps them graduate high school and go on to college.

Students enrolled in the program tend to face daily struggles that often prevent them from reaching their full potential. In the neighborhoods the BGCP serves, 70% of students are not reading at grade level, 35% don’t graduate from high school, and 43% of students are homeless or in foster care. However, the BGCP has helped to alleviate these struggles, as 90% of the students enrolled in the program graduate from high school with a plan for higher education. The students receive over 740 extra hours of learning time, outside of the school day, from a number of volunteers who dedicate their time to the organization.

“The most valuable thing that BGCP offers its members is the opportunity to achieve school success through consistent academic and enrichment programming. I think the most valuable thing that kids at BGCP get out of their experience can be the amazing relationships formed with their mentors and tutors,” Jenny Saba, the volunteer manager at BGCP says.

BGCP, being a non-profit organization, relies heavily on the help of volunteers. Volunteers provide help with tutoring, directing activities, mentoring, and even college counseling. The more volunteers BGCP has, the greater the impact they can make on the children’s lives.

“[The BGCP] has as much of an impact on the volunteers and their perspective on the world as it does for the kids who participate,” Victoria Bailey, a parent of three children living in Woodside says.

The tremendous work of the volunteers not only changes the children’s lives, but also the volunteers’ lives. By helping children in need, the volunteers gain a sense of understanding for the struggles that they face. BGCP seeks help from high school volunteers throughout the Bay Area for help with the after school tutoring, weekend activities, organizing events and fundraisers, and their summer program.

“Volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club has really helped [my daughter] get a better understanding of the opportunities that many children unfortunately don’t have. Not only does she appreciate her own advantages more, but she also wants to help these kids even more than before, and they need all the help that they can get,” Francoise Williams, the mother of a high school volunteer says.

The children at BGCP and the volunteers build lasting relationships, which continue to grow every time they meet. The children often look forward to seeing their tutors and mentors, and sometimes even look up to them. The volunteers understand that they are making a major impact on the children’s lives, and being a part of making this difference is all the more rewarding.

“I think the most valuable thing that kids at BGCP get out of their experience with the program can be the amazing relationships formed with their mentors and tutors. In return, our volunteers gain the experience of connecting with a student and helping close the opportunity gap that exists in the Peninsula. They feel a sense of reward for making small and meaningful strides towards solving a larger issue,” Saba adds.