Commissioners honor Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club

Posted April 27, 2009 8:06 p.m. EDT

— Durham County commissioners chose to honor the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club with the first Commissioners' Community Circle Award.

The Boys and Girls Club serves 340 members, including 25 at-risk teens who regularly attend daytime and after-school programs at a Teen Center founded two years ago with a grant from Durham County.

"Their parents are coming to the Club to find out what's making their children want to their homework and go to school. And (Durham Public Schools) staff are asking, 'Can you please take more kids?'" Salvation Army staffers wrote in a questionnaire for the award.

The award, presented at a meeting Monday night, recognizes the services that local nonprofits give to the community.

"The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club has proven that excellence in the areas of productivity, creativity and commitment to citizens is highly valued," Michael D. Page, chairman of the board of commissioners, wrote in a letter to the group.

"Your efforts help to improve the lives of citizens, and the overall enhancement of our community is greatly appreciated."

The Boys & Girls Club also runs after-school programs with an average of attendance of 80 kids between ages; summer camps that go for more than 10 hours a day; a Girl Scout troop; soccer, basketball and baseball teams; a summer bookmobile with Durham County library; and special weekend activities.

In addition to six full-time staffers, more than 50 community volunteers help. The Chapel Hill Philharmonic gives piano lessons for one day a week.

With mentoring, the children "have taken their responsibilities for serving the broader community in ways that have surprised us," staffers wrote in the questionnaire. "The members of both clubs are discovering that they have something to offer, even at this young age."

Middle schoolers collect dog food for families that can't afford it, and high schoolers serve dinner weekly at the Durham Rescue Mission.

As part of the club's Junior Staff, one high schooler is the head coach for an athletic team, and another ran mid-day programming at a summer camp last year alone, letting adult staffers take a break.

"And in 2009-10, two of our Junior Staff will be going to college, continuing to set a good example for the Club brothers and sisters," read the questionnaire.