NEWBURGH - Karimah McGowan has learned the powerful nature of education, inside and outside of the classroom. Set to enter Marlboro Middle School in the fall, McGowan is spending her second summer at the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh. A wide smile stretches across her face when asked about her summer experience.
"I love the Boys & Girls Club; it involves school work and fun," beams McGowan. "I especially like that we are having a book drive now that helps other kids in the world get an education, because not all kids are so lucky to have one."
McGowan is not alone in reaping the rewards of a Boys & Girls of Newburgh experience; the Club serves over 2000 young people annually. Emphasizing academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles, Boys and Girls fills that dire out-of-school time slot, when 15 million kids nationwide (1 out of 4) exit school, having no place to go. In response to that critical need, along with the lifelong positive impact the Boys and Girls Club can have on a child’s life, the B & G of Newburgh announced their launch of the nationwide Great Futures Campaign Thursday. The Movement seeks to redefine the opportunity equation for our youth by raising the bar for access to afterschool and summer programs, foundations for the knowledge, skills and behaviors critical for success.
Kevin White, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh spoke Thursday about the ways adults can assist the Great Futures Campaign. In addition to a financial contribution, such efforts as coming out and reading to a child or attending a school board meeting are priceless options. Anything to help a child’s growth is a step in the right direction. White then announced another launch, the 1000 Book Giveaway. 300 bookbags lines one of the gym’s walls; each had three books inside for area youth, ages Kindergarten- grade 12.
"Education is a game-changer, changing lives," said White. "It can ensure that children will have bright futures."
Those futures began to soon bloom as about 25 Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh participants dashed over to claim a bookbag, reveling in its contents and displaying for all in attendance to see. Part of those looking on were; Enlarged Newburgh City School District Superintendent, Roberto Padilla, City of Newburgh Mayor, Judy Kennedy and Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board Member, Phil Howard. Padilla, himself a product of Boys and Girls of Newburgh, knows firsthand the potency of out-of-school programs.
"When I was younger, I wanted my time to be something positive, so I spent it right here," said Padilla. "I look around this room, and I see promise, for things like college; I stand committed to giving each of you a fighting chance."
McGowan has made the most of her chance. Not only is she looking forward to her remaining summer hours at the Club, but she hopes to some day return to the 285 Liberty Street building when she gets older, offering her time and services. It’s exactly what the Great Futures Campaign is seeking to create, a cycle of community involvement, change and hope, a topic addressed by Kennedy.
"Every one of you young people were born to greatness, no matter what circumstances you have," affirmed Kennedy, as she surveyed the group of Boys and Girls members who surrounded her. "You have within you what it takes to be great."
To learn more about the Boys and Girls of Newburgh’s programs as well as ways you can get involved, call: (845) 561-4936 or log on to: www.bgcnny.org.