Boys & Girls Club of Gallup, New
Over the past five
years, the Boys & Girls Club of Gallup has gone through
some remarkable changes. Once known as the "baseball
club" that worked out of a borrowed office, it now boasts
1,100 members and a facility with a pool.
The Club is located on the border of Arizona
and New Mexico and in between the lands of the Navajo Nation
and Zuni Pueblo. It was first established in 1999 as the Borderland
Boys & Girls Club and now not only boasts a new name,
but a new building and new vision.
the Club stepped in to help with the city's troubled youth
baseball league in 2000, Bill Hoedebeck, who was also teaching
at a local school, decided to take on the responsibility of
The baseball league was restarted and the
Club eventually began to expand their programming. Bill, who
stepped into the role of executive director, used his contacts
at a school and began running after-school programs in a back
room and a summer program in the gym.
As years passed and membership grew, Bill
worked closely with the board of directors to locate new space.
An underused Park Service recreation center had an existing
senior citizen program and a veteran's office, but the after
school timeslot was open. It was a perfect match.
"I guess you could say we used the tortoise
approach," said Bill, "If you hurry and get things
done like the hare - they may not last. The tortoise approach
means by taking your time, things will be a better fit and
These days, the Club has broad programming
available including an extensive arts and crafts program and
a computer lab where Club Tech runs every day. The Club teams
with the Senior Citizen program and has matched members with
"grandparents". There were several competitive bingo
matches during summer camp with over 200 elders and youth
SMART Moves is implemented at the Club; there
are also Club-operated programs at three schools in communities
that are isolated.
"We get lots of compliments from teachers
when they see members' grades are improving," said Bill.
The staff is dedicated and consists of many
high school and college volunteers. Bill has found kids will
open up to the younger volunteers, so he makes sure they are
thoroughly trained in CPR, first aid certification and child
Club youth are working on plans to convert
the games room into a teen center. There are also plans to
enclose the pool area so it can be used year-round. Bill wants
to ensure kids have options in the community and will choose
to be a part of the Club.
"It's so tough to be a kid today,"
says Bill. "Our goal is to make this Club a place where
kids can just be kids."
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