Clubs offer options for youth

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2004

The goal of the seven Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula is to make kids be the best they can be, the club's new interim director told Soldotna business leaders Tuesday.

"Our mission is to inspire youth and empower them to become the best," said Brenda Ahlberg, who is serving as interim director of the clubs since the departure of Tina Marie Herford.

Ahlberg, who has been the clubs' resource development director for eight months, said she has expressed an interest in becoming the new executive director.

After serving as executive director for two years, Herford left to spend more time with her family, said the clubs' board of directors president, Peter Micciche.

Ahlberg told members of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce that the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula are in Homer, Kenai, Nikiski, Seldovia, Seward and Soldotna, and the organization operates the Teen Center in Kenai.

The first club opened in Kenai in 1988.

In addition to serving the six communities in which clubs exist, Ahlberg said the organization offers services to youth in other communities such as Moose Pass and Clam Gulch.

Club membership costs $20, which works out to 8 cents a day, she said, and a typical day at one of the clubs entails signing in after school at 3:20 p.m.; power hour, a time set aside for completing school homework assignments, at 4; themed activity at 5; and sign out at 6.

Among the national programs offered by Boys and Girls Clubs across the country are SMART Moves a program that teaches kids to resist alcohol and drugs computer technology classes and a national Youth of the Year contest.

Boys and Girls Clubs also offer indoor and outdoor soccer, flag football, basketball and other sports, as well as mini-courses in subjects such as book making and geology.

"The book making project takes kids from the story all the way to making the bound book," Ahlberg said.

She also said a recent geology project took youth on a trek to the beach at Clam Gulch, where they identified and gathered fossils.

Although memberships provide some of the money to produce activities for youth, Ahlberg said, "It takes $475 per child to provide an activity."

She said Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula has received what she termed "cornerstone contributions" from Agrium, British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and Tesoro.

After Ahlberg's formal presentation on the clubs, Micciche presented a plaque to board member Ken Mayer, who brought Agrium in as a sponsor of the Boys and Girls Clubs' golf tournament fund raising event.

Micciche thanked Mayer for 11 years of service to the community.

When asked for a status report on the Kenai Teen Center, which the Boys and Girls Clubs began managing for the city in December, Ahlberg said, "When we opened in December, we had 157 new members sign up.

"I think that speaks for how people like it."

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