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Boys & Girls Club: Anticipating ‘fantastic 2022’

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The local Boys & Girls Club at 201 South Garden Ave. in Roswell. (Submitted Photo)

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The organization originally called the Roswell Boys Club came into being in 1965. The name changed when girls were welcomed, to the Roswell Boys & Girls Club. In October 2017 they combined with the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra Blanca to expand their reach and bring the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chaves and Lincoln Counties into being. The new club has taken on a leadership role among clubs throughout New Mexico.

Natasha Welt has been back with the organization for five months, in the role of Unit Director for the Roswell Garden Unit. This married mother of four children, who enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking and fishing, spoke about her position. “I love my job at the club because it offers me time with children, as well as an opportunity to give back to my community in various ways.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented problems for the club that have led to the organization finding new solutions. Those solutions have benefitted local youth.

“During the virtual learning period which occurred last school year, we quickly learned just how difficult and how many of our members struggled with reading. That experience made us resolve to add a literacy program to the programs we already offer through the club,” Welt said. “With the help of donors and grants, we have done just that and implemented our literacy program, as well as added STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities which are both well received here. We are already measuring success with increased reading and comprehension levels.”

The club recently received a lease for their building on South Garden Avenue from the City of Roswell. “This lease,” Welt said, “will allow us to continue serving the community in this location for 20 years, with the available renewals.” That means citizens can feel comfortable that the club will be around for decades to come, in order to help future generations.

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Recently a donor stepped in to help. Welt said, “An anonymous donor has identified Pecos Elementary as being a school in need of after-school services. This donor is willing to offer a scholarship to students from Pecos Elementary that covers the monthly after-school fee, the daily non-school day fee, and transportation for the remainder of the school year.” Students’ families would only be responsible for the annual membership fee.

The scholarship is on a first come, first served basis while there’s space available, she said.

With so much work being done at the club, and with the extended lease, the club is actively looking to recruit and serve new members. In general, the application process for new club members requires completing an application at the Club, 201 South Garden Ave. There are various fees involved, and scholarships are available based on financial needs of the family, Welt said.

Those interested in more information can call 575-550-5001.

When it comes to considering future programs and additions, Welt said that at this point the club “is targeting elementary and middle school students. Our recruitment of teens will come later.”

Given excitement over the fact that the local Boys & Girls Club will not have to worry about moving, as well as new ideas and creative thinking happening there, the outlook for the organization is a positive one.

“We would love to thank Washington Federal, Panda Cares Foundation, the Armstrong-Clark Foundation, JC Penney and Excel Energy for being sponsors to our programs,” Welt said. “These companies, along with our community, allow us to look forward to a fantastic 2022.”

More information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lincoln and Chaves Counties can be found online at http://bgcsierrablanca.org/index.html. The website prominently displays their motto: “Great Futures Start Here.”

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