Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mason Valley – Schurz Unit
In the Walker River Valley in northwestern Nevada, a strong partnership has formed between the Walker River Paiute Tribe and the local community. This partnership has brought about new opportunities for youth and “peace of mind” for parents.
The Schurz Unit Boys & Girls Club is operated under the parent organization, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mason Valley. For years, the Mason Valley Club in Yerington, Nevada served members of the tribal community. In 2004, the Walker River Tribe contacted the Mason Valley Club to express an interest in opening a Boys & Girls Club on their reservation. A Memorandum of Agreement between the Tribe and the Mason Valley Club was developed, forming the first partnership of its kind in Nevada. Today, two tribal members sit on the board of the Mason Valley organization and there are plans to add a third tribal member soon. The parent organization understands that in order to serve the youth most effectively, it is necessary to have representatives of the Schurz community on their Board of Directors.
The Schurz Club opened its doors on November 15, 2005 in a local elementary school.
One month later, the Tribal Elders moved out of their former building, giving the Club the opportunity to move in. This provided a larger space and separate areas for the games room, education room, and arts and crafts center. The building was also closer to the community gym. After moving to the new site, the Club’s average daily attendance more than doubled.
In February 2005, the Tribal Council approved the usage of funds to build a 2,500 square foot building. On June 30, 2005, the new Club officially opened. Representatives of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Congressmen, local and state dignitaries, and Club members were all on-site to celebrate this great accomplishment! Today, youth take part in traditional Boys & Girls Clubs programs while also incorporating cultural elements such as demonstrating beadwork techniques and teaching the Paiute language.
This year, the Club reached a new goal by securing enough funding to open the Club in the evenings for teenagers. Teens now have a place to go until 9:00 pm each night. Teens also benefited from participation in a pilot project of the Charles Schwab program, Money Matters: Make it Count. The Schurz Unit was one of four Native American Clubs selected to implement the program and evaluate the curriculum’s suitability for tribal communities. In the summer of 2005, three groups of youth, ages 12-17, participated in the program. The Club utilized resources from a local credit union, providing mock checkbooks and ledgers to participants. These tools provided realistic practice which was well received. Parent enthusiasm was so great that by the end of the program, the Club had been asked to offer the program to adult tribal members. The program also led to a scholarship award for one Club member – a teen program participant was selected as one of only 20 youth nationwide to receive a Money Matters scholarship from the Charles Schwab Foundation.
Less than two years after opening its doors, the Club has grown to serve 150 Club members and employ one full-time and six part-time staff members. Robert McKenrick, Unit Director says that the community understands the positive effects of the Club. “Parents feel comfortable sending their children to the Club,” says McKenrick. “They see it as a safe place to go. Tribal members know that the youth are the future and they support the work of the Club.” He adds, “I have come to respect the culture, kids and family bonds that surround the community of Schurz, and I feel very fortunate for where I am working today.” McKenrick hopes to continue to strengthen the unique partnership between the tribe and Mason Valley Club, and to increase membership and programming. If their past success is any indication, this goal will be accomplished
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