Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces - Enabling Children to Reach Their Full Potential
Often, children are left alone at home without parental supervision while their parents are at work. This can cause many to turn to their own devices to pass the time on their own, without the direction that adult supervision can provide. Having a place that provides a strong sense of community and direction can help children in these situations not only stay out of trouble, but grow and plan for their future as well.
The Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces is a nonprofit group that has been present in the community since 1963. Their mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need them most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. As one of the city’s growing community centers for children, they offer a variety of activities ranging from the arts to sports, to something as simple as helping them with their homework. The local Boys & Girls Club offers children the opportunity to immerse themselves in things like clay work, dancing, kick boxing and, most importantly, character and leadership activities. The activities available have even included capoeira, DJ lessons and chess lessons. Additionally, there are rooms specifically designated for arts and crafts, reading, dance, tutoring and other high yield learning activities such as a computer lab containing 20 multi-media computers with internet for use by members for both academics and leisure.
Ashley Echavarria, the Executive Director, has been working for Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces for two years and says she attended the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad growing up. She admits that the club helped provide her with direction and guidance that she likely would not have gotten elsewhere, and her purpose is to give that same sense of hope to children in this community.
“Not only is it good for children,” Ashley shared, “but it is also helpful to their parents and the community as a whole. It gives the parents the peace of mind that their kids are loved and cared for. There are 14,000 kids in Doña Ana County who are disconnected, meaning they have nothing to do when they are out of school. Our goal is to see them off, help them graduate and become productive after that.” Beyond high school graduation, Ashley noted that there are scholarships available exclusively for college students who were at one time Boys & Girls Club members.
“Those interested in coming by to see the operation should come during its busy times,” Ashley said. The outside of the building, she admitted, is not altogether very appealing and she believes it is one of the reasons many parents choose not to enroll their children. “Just driving by, the curbside appeal isn’t the greatest. It’s an old building; we’re talking a building that’s over a hundred years old. But, I’ve never had someone who had a negative perception; walk out with a negative perception once they walked in.”
On their website, the listed weekly fee is $50 during the school year and $65 during the summertime. This includes access to the building’s facilities, which include things such as a foosball table and video games, and they also provide snacks. However, Ashley states that they try to be flexible for children who come from low income households and cannot afford the typical price. Parents who may be unable to afford $50 a week can apply for a rate reduction and there are also scholarships available upon request. “Our goal is to expose them (the children) to things they haven’t been exposed to, out of hopes that maybe they’ll make a career out of it,” she avowed.
The Boys & Girls Club is not a local program, but rather a national effort which serves close to 4 million children nationwide every year. Ashley noted that statistically: “On a national level, kids who go to the club at least once a week have a better success rate [at school] than their peers who don’t. When they go twice a week, that success rate increases significantly.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces is a positive benefit to children, parents and the community. As such, there are plenty opportunities for the community to get involved. Those interested in joining the Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces as volunteers, to donate, or to enlist their children are encouraged call or visit the club. Children are accepted year round, however, enrollment is limited to space.
For further information please contact:
Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces
330 W. Las Cruces Avenue , Las Cruces, NM 88001