Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks continues to serve kids, despite COVID-19 funding challenges

Working parents say, pandemic or not, their children need a safe place to go after school.
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 4:18 PM CDT
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STONE AND TANEY COUNTIES, Mo. (KY3) - The Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks is continuing to reach kids in Forsyth, Branson, and Reeds Spring, despite financial challenges during COVID-19.

“Just because COVID-19 came, doesn’t mean Boys and Girl Club went away,” Boys and Girls of the Ozarks Director of Operations Patrick Stewart said.

Working parents say, pandemic or not, their children need a safe place to go after school.

“They can get homework help. They get a nice meal,” Stephanie Mabe-Pidruzny said. “[Without it] they would have to ride the bus home. They’d be there by themselves for two to three hours.”

The Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks serves families in Stone and Taney Counties.

“It’s so important for rural communities. And, as we know, we are the only show in town when it comes to youth development,” Boys and Girls of the Ozarks CEO Stoney Hays said.

Hays says since COVID-19 hit, the 500 kids that filled the three locations daily dropped to about 350. Financial support has dropped, too.

“The pandemic has had a major effect on us. We saw it early on in 2020 here, beginning in about February and March. Our annual campaign took a real big hit. It was about $200,000 right out of the shoot. The other events and contributions have been down to the tune of about $580,000. So, as an organization we are having to make major reductions in our staffing. We have cut our hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. We are going to hold the line and prepare for 2021,” Hays said.

However, despite the challenges, staff members say one thing is not changing: they will always be here for kids.

“Every child who comes in, they need somebody,” Stewart said.

Stewart says kids still need homework help, they still need food, and they still need positive role models.

“We still have a duty. We still owe them the responsibility of checking in on them and making sure that they and their families are okay,” Stewart said.

However, The Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks not only impacts kids' lives, but also the future of local communities.

“That’s our future businessmen and women. That’s our future entrepreneurs. That’s our future leaders, our stakeholders. Right now, with this global pandemic, they have an ACE. That’s an acronym for “adverse childhood effect.” Every ACE that you have in your life, it affects you,” Stewart said.

That’s why, they say, it takes all of us to come along side the club in its mission, especially now.

“If everybody helped just a little bit, Boys and Girls Club would be in a better place,” Stewart said. “That means our kids and our futures are in a better place.”

The club’s annual fall charity event has been moved to the spring. There are ongoing opportunities to give. Click here to help support Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks.

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