Zaria Brown remembered the Boys & Girls Club giving her hope as a 13-year-old.
“It did a lot for me,” the Myrtle Beach High School graduate said. “It helped me realize that I can go to college. This place gave me hope to come and show kids today if they can be more than their environment.”
Brown, a former member of the organization and current volunteer, was one of several who attended a ceremony debuting the Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand’s new facility in Myrtle Beach on Wednesday.
The new building is located at 1000 Dunbar St.
The Boys & Girls Club’s work is aimed at assisting young people by inspiring them and helping them realize their full potential by becoming productive, responsible and caring members of the community.
It includes helping them boost their literacy, garner a better understanding of subjects such math and science and realize the importance of saving money and financial responsibility.
“I think there’s so much in terms of academics that this place offers,” board member Andy Kovan said. “I think the programs that really prepare you for after high school, like money management, are just part of a wide variety of programs that better you for your future.”
Brown, an aspiring radiologist technician, attends Horry Georgetown Technical College and will receive her associate’s degree next year.
She said the programs at the Boys & Girls Club Gabe give people hope and show them “different things in the world.” While some might feel an afterschool program isn’t for them, she encourages giving it a shot.
“You can do the small things and be successful,” she said.
Last year, the Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand served close to 1,500 youths in the area with the help of 11 adult staff members and 50 volunteers.
Of those 1,500, a little less than 350 were registered members of the organization. The rest were served through community outreach.
Kovan said the number of young people served shows the need for such initiatives in the area.
“Places like this help bridge the gap between home and school,” he said. “Hearing the stories that I have heard about the impact this place has on people’s lives shows that there is a great opportunity to bring your child here to help them get their schoolwork done but also learn important life skills.”
Brown said one thing that kept her coming back was the organization’s staff.
“They always made sure that I was all right,” she said. “They made me feel safe. To this day, I still talk with the staff that helped me when I was here, and they still give me advice.”
Now, it’s her turn to help the next generation.
“As the old African proverb goes: ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” Cindy Ball, interim CEO of Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand said. “That still applies today.”
Visit bgclubgs.org for more information.