Cycling for Change Event

Keystone Club has been a long-time supporter of Cycling for Change since its creation. So when they introduced the idea of organizing an event to help break the cycle of human trafficking the teens were happy to participate. People were invited to join in this virtual event by walking, running, or biking. Then they were instructed to post their pictures using #ihatetraffik to social media to show that they were involved from wherever they were. The teens from Grenville Baker headed to the Jones Beach Path that starts out of Cedar Creek Park to show their support. This is one of their favorite spots to go as a group and the members were glad to have the chance to go on such a nice day. Some of the members biked the five miles all the way down to the beach and others walked part of the path. They were a little winded after so much time in quarantine, but they made it to the end and back. They were very excited for water though. The members handed in money for the cause and they donated it to Cycling for Change through their website. John Cruz said, “It was nice to feel useful and do something good and feel connected to something.” John expressed the sentiments of the group overall and it was a very productive last community service project for the year.

Memorial Day

Grenville Baker and the Locust Valley CommunityMay 20, 2020 

Each year, Memorial Day is a time to count our blessings and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Here at Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club, we are constantly reminded that one of our greatest blessings is our community. Even in the face of a pandemic, local residents have been reaching out, finding ways to work together to help those in need.

Our community has a history of coming together to solve each new challenge. Beginning with the Matinecock Neighborhood Association at the turn of the 20th Century, residents worked together to improve the roads and to establish a fire department. They went on to build the Matinecock Neighborhood House (that later became the Library) and the Locust Valley Fire House. After WWII, their sense of service moved community members to form Operation Democracy to send much needed relief to a “sister city” in France and, closer to home, to found the American Legion Howard Van Wagner Post 962 for veterans, and to build the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club for our children.

Throughout its history, the Club has maintained this local tradition of coming together and has worked collaboratively with many of our local institutions. We partner with the Locust Valley Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, nearby schools and all our amazing volunteers. To expand the horizons of our young readers, we partner with the Locust Valley Library, where our members enjoy a reading club. When our young participants need to learn to swim, they are welcomed to the Y, our Club’s partner in the Buddy Winslow Swim Program.

In the wake of COVID-19, the Club has become a founding member of NOSH joining St. John’s Church of Lattingtown and other local groups. NOSH is a community-based organization created to provide support for the food insecure in our area. With many people losing their jobs, our community has once again come together to address a need. Concerned citizens have joined forces through NOSH to safely and responsibly deliver food where it is needed, within the parameters and guidelines prescribed by state and local authorities.

Following this example, our Club members in turn are learning to collaborate at a young age, working with other groups to give back to their community. This past month our Keystone Club helped with NOSH as well as joining our Torch Club and grade school kids to send special hand-made thank you cards to our frontline responders. In the past our service clubs have worked with the North Shore Land Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors, the Salvation Army and others.

Locust Valley is a wonderful place to grow up and to call home. In all my years living here, I have been so impressed.  Not only is our town beautiful to look at, but at its heart, it has a strong foundation of community spirit. Our children benefit from this foundation and from the outpouring of love and support the community shows in times of need.

Summer Vacation Is Here!

Summer Vacation Is Here! –  June 29, 2016

Summer vacation is here! Soon our children will be busy riding bicycles, taking trips to the beach or swimming in a neighbor’s pool. While summer provides a much needed break from the hectic school year for parents and children, it is still important that children reinforce what they learned in school during the summer.

Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is committed to ensuring that the youth of our community excel academically, especially those who need us most. Each summer, our youth lose valuable reading and math skills. Summer learning losses can stack up from year to year, causing children to fall further and further behind, ultimately endangering their chances to succeed in high school. We want to make sure that our kids graduate on time with a plan for the future. That’s why we introduced the Summer Brain Gain program to our campers. This program, developed specifically by BGCA to combat “summer brain drain,” integrates learning into our daily schedule of summer camp activities.

Summer Brain Gain is comprised of one-week modules with fun, themed activities for elementary school, middle school and high school students. Each module takes a project-based learning approach: youth engage in a process of learning through discovery, creative expression, group work and a final project or production. As a result, kids develop thinking skills throughout the summer while staying on track for the coming school year.

Today most parents are aware of the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in academics and in future careers. Jobs in STEM fields are growing nearly twice as fast as other fields. Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club has embraced this new challenge and opportunity, by introducing programs that bring STEM into our Summer Brain Gain program. Now another development in education has brought the acronym STEAM to the forefront. STEAM encourages kids to integrate the arts in their study of STEM, keeping learning fun and creative.

Through STEAM this summer, our kids will incorporate drama and visual arts into their summer activities in addition to fun experiments and STEM projects. “Blending different disciplines is a great way to make science and other academic subjects come alive,” said Carlos Pumar, our Education Director. “We don’t have to teach in silos. We want to provide a well-rounded program that blends STEM and the arts, as well as fresh air and exercise.” After all, summer is a great time for kids to feel free to experiment and to be creative without the pressure of coming up with a right or wrong answer.” Reading together, our campers will have the opportunity to act out the story with their peers and use their imagination to express the narrative themes of the book. Who knew learning could be so much fun?!

Lemons To Lemonade

Making Lemonade, June 24, 2020

Over the past 70 years, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club has had to evolve and adapt in the face of everchanging times. The past year has presented many new challenges including closures from our Building Great Futures Construction Project and from COVID-19. In response to each challenge, the Club has worked hard to pivot and to adjust, keeping our eye on the mission of serving the needs of our members.

In retrospect, the changes imposed over the past year by our construction project were relatively easy. With the help of community partners, we moved GBBGC Summer Camp 2019 to the Greek Orthodox Church in Brookville and then conducted our afterschool program at the Bayville Recreation Center, the Locust Valley Reformed Church and St. Patrick’s All Saints School. This required some adjustments for our members and our staff, but the welcome accommodations provided by each organization helped smooth our way.

Sadly, COVID-19 has presented a more daunting challenge; but despite this health crisis, our Club staff has once again found a way to serve our members. With schools and the Club closed due to the shutdown, the staff were able to pivot and to adjust to continue supporting our members academically, socially and recreationally. The staff let our kids know that we are all in the together and still within reach, even while they are at home. To achieve this goal, we developed “GBBGC at Home,” a multifaceted initiative that served our kids each and every day.

Each morning our kids were greeted with a daily Motivational Message by Ms. Michelle, one of our K-5 Directors. Her videos were fun and lighthearted, with reminders about the activities of the day and an inspirational message. Through her daily social media challenges, we were able to organize a successful thank you note drive to deliver to our local hospital to express our gratitude to our healthcare workers. Michelle’s” Good Morning” videos will continue through the summer.

In addition to a daily Homework Help and a Virtual Power Hour, we added a series of Virtual Learning Experiences that included a weekly theme-based collection of daily activities focusing on science, art, cooking, fitness, reading, language and fun. Themes have included D.I.Y., Music, and Disney. The virtual content was designed to provide parents with activities for their children that are enriching and entertaining for the kids. We also provided a library of websites that include distance learning, virtual field trips, or educational websites, for parents to utilize as they desire. We will continue to update this document on a weekly basis and always adding new resources that we find and think that our youth will benefit from and enjoy.

We have created a GBBGC At Home YouTube Channel just for the programs that we are delivering virtually. That way, anyone who is not able to tune in at the scheduled time, can check out activities they missed like Kids in the Kitchen and Ninja Warrior. We have utilized the Zoom App to conduct our Spring Programs including SMART Girls, Passport to Manhood, Mad Scientists, Coding, and Photography. For our parents, we have hosted Zoom chats in Spanish and English to answer their questions and concerns. With the Zoom platform we have also hosted Virtual BINGO and Club Dance Parties with everyone’s favorite DJ Mr. Carlos.

For our young adults who are experiencing stress and anxiety during this time, our Teen staff has stayed in close communication by telephone and Zoom. Our Teen Director, Stephanie, has been speaking to all of our “regulars” on a frequent basis, checking in with them about their mental and physical well-being. In addition, she continues to run virtual Keystone Club, Money Matters, and college counseling including scholarship application support, assistance with their schoolwork, and mentoring.

I am proud of our staff. When presented with lemons, they have made lemonade and not just through the virtual tools and apps; sometimes there is no substitute for some good old-fashioned interaction (from a safe distance). Our staff has staged drive-by parades and pizza deliveries to put a smile on the faces of our members. In cases of need, there have also made food deliveries in partnership with the concerned citizens of NOSH, all within the parameters and guidelines prescribed by state and local authorities.

Our staff at Grenville Baker remain committed to our mission and to doing what it takes “to inspire and enable all young people to realize their potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens and community leaders of tomorrow.”