Boys and Girls Clubs looks to Barrow

Posted: Monday, April 17, 2000

BARROW (AP) -- Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska may be taking over management of some of the youth programs the city of Barrow now sponsors.

The organization has been moving into rural areas that lack activities for youths and and Barrow and the North Slope Borough are a target for this expansion, said Bruce Gazaway, director of statewide expansion for the Boys and Girls Clubs in Alaska.

''Right now, we are at the point where people in Barrow can consider starting a Boys and Girls Club, and the city government can consider the option of making the transition to the club,'' Gazaway told the Arctic Sounder.

Boys and Girls Clubs are a membership organization with a trained staff to supervise activities. They sponsor city sports leagues and also provide study areas and computers for youths. In addition to the paid staff, the club also relies on volunteers.

''Our trained staff provide the children with a variety of programs, as well as good, old-fashioned discipline in a structured environment,'' Gazaway said.

The potential Barrow program is in its infancy, and local residents have volunteered to spearhead the formation of a citizens advisory committee.

Club members range in age from 6 to 18. Members are required to pay a membership fee of about $20 annually. About 70 percent of individual clubs are funded by local donations, with the rest coming from various grants.

''The main reason for the charge is to teach kids responsibility and respect for the things they actually pay for. We charge a membership fee, but on the other hand, we have various scholarship programs or work programs where kids can earn their dues,'' Gazaway said. ''We don't turn anybody away.''

Gazaway has met with the mayor and city council and said there is support for the organization in Barrow.

The city's Teen Center, which is used only sporadically because of staffing difficulties, is being considered as a possible location for the club.

''We are really hoping that this club can take some of the city's responsibility as far as organizing some of the activities we now handle. I think this could be good for the community and there seems to be a positive response so far,'' said Barrow Mayor Jim Vorderstrasse.

The Boys and Girls Club has nine clubs in rural Alaska, including one in Kotzebue.

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