by Eric Williams
As the Vice President of the board for our Prince William County Boys & Girls Clubs of America, I see every day the difference these programs make in the lives of area children. The General Heiser, Hylton and Martin K. Alloy clubs, located in Dumfries, Dale City and Manassas, offer a safe haven for our children to learn and grow.
While it is definitely a “cool” place for our youth to hang out, it’s so much more than that! These children are involved in educational programs to boost their academic performance and foster their love of learning. I love hearing about the success of the Power Hour program, which helps youth members with their homework, and about kids who have mapped out a plan for their future by attending the Career Launch program. They’re aiming for college and beyond, and I find that truly inspiring and life-changing!
Our clubs offer endless opportunities for kids ages 5-18 to develop and practice leadership skills. Our Torch Clubs (ages 11-13) and Keystone (ages 14-18) provide chances to lead and serve others. Through these groups, the kids learn valuable social skills and find a safe place where they truly belong.
Not only do our clubs help with leadership and academics, they offer health and safety education, too. Safety education covers topics like online safety, smart dating practices and drug and alcohol prevention. Other programs broach the challenging subject of developing bodies, as well as good nutrition, physical activity and self-esteem enhancement. The Boys & Girls Clubs grow confident, savvy youth who turn into successful adults.
There are also many classes designed purely for play, to encourage their passions and hobbies. Our art programs are like none other! Drama, digital arts, photography, painting, drawing — you name it, the Boys & Girls Clubs have it. Children thrive when they are comfortable expressing themselves, and many best do this through art. The creations we see from our members are astounding. And for many, without the clubs, they would never have the opportunity to pursue their passions. The world would be missing out!
Lastly, members also have the chance to play sports. The fitness programs build strong bodies and teach positive ways to spend free time. Baseball, softball, golf and general fitness activities are available to our kids.
Each club has a small membership fee, but we don’t turn any child away. We’re here for all of our children and our entire community.
I’m encouraging you to come see what it’s all about, then help out if you can. You can make a difference in the lives of area children by volunteering with the Boys & Girls Clubs. Share your talents or just your love of youth. Visit www.bgcgw.org/prince-william. Join us in changing lives every day and help us reach every child who needs us. We can make what seems impossible happen if we all truly believe we can!
Eric Williams is a real estate professional who believes in the power of service, both to clients and community. He currently sits on boards for the Prince William County Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Leadership Prince William, Kappa Foundation, the Realtor Association of Prince William, Saint Paul’s College and First Mt. Zion Baptist Church, to name a few. Eric can be reached at [email protected]