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Dr. Silvia Moore and Jeremy Bland of Boys and Girls Clubs of Fauquier

Boys & Girls Clubs of Fauquier is growing and reaching out into the community

By Lindsay Hogeboom

When asked what his favorite part of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fauquier is, Jeremy Bland answers, “The kids…. They can brighten up your day just as much as you can brighten up theirs. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize — you can learn a lot from kids if you listen to them.”

Since 2017, Bland has served the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fauquier in a variety of roles, including youth development professional and mentor, academic assistant, Passport to Manhood program facilitator, and more. In January, Bland officially took on the role of director of clubs, where he works alongside Dr. Silvia Moore, who was appointed CEO of the organization in June of 2021. The two bring a diverse set of expertise to the clubs: Moore has an extensive background in education, while Bland is a lifelong resident of Fauquier County and has first-hand knowledge about the community members and their needs. Both are committed to the success of children in the county.

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Fauquier is “to help boys and girls of all backgrounds — especially those who need us most — build confidence, develop character and acquire the skills needed to become productive, civic-minded, responsible adults.” While the clubs are open for kids outside of school hours, it is much more than a typical after-school program. “It’s a place for kids to come have fun with a purpose,” explains Moore. “This club is voluntary. The kids don’t have to come here — they come here because they want to.” Bland adds, “They can come in here and the possibilities are really limitless. Some after-school programs focus on just tutoring [or] mentorship, but we try to provide variety.”

According to Moore, to ensure children’s needs are being met and they are eager to participate, it’s important to have buy-in from them about the programs offered, which aim to prepare them to be successful adults. Some of the current programs include Power Hour, during which kids do homework and practice becoming self-directed learners; Triple Play, a physical activity-based program that aims to teach how emotions and actions intertwine; Project Learn, which can consist of any activity that helps the kids to learn a new skill or extend their knowledge; and Passport to Manhood and Smart Girls, which each allow boys and girls to meet with other kids their age and gender to discuss challenges, events or any other important topics happening in their lives.

Moore and Bland both agree that mentorship is an integral aspect of each of these programs. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fauquier encourage the kids to choose their mentor — usually a staff member who the child feels a connection with. “I feel it’s really important because you don’t really know what [the kids] are getting at home,” says Bland. “You want to make sure you give those kids an opportunity at least every day to sit down and talk about their day, because you never know if they don’t go home to that.”

While the Boys & Girls Clubs welcome volunteer mentors, “Our mentorship program is not for the weak of heart, because our staff has gone through hours of training,” including social justice practices training and trauma-informed care training, and will soon be taking part in anti-trafficking training, says Moore.

“I think one of the most powerful things that is coming out of the mentorship is an outreach to parents,” says Moore. She explains that staff have identified a need to help many of the kids with reading to bring them up to grade level, “so what we really like to do is partner with parents, partner with teachers, assess the kids’ reading level and then help them to get up to grade levels. That’s our next big program that I think we’re going to be hiring for and we’re going to be instituting with parents.”

To that end, Moore says they are always looking for volunteers who can help with reading education. Additionally, the staff welcome any volunteers who are able to teach hands-on activities, which helps to bring a diverse set of skills to club members and expose kids to a variety of potential interests.

One aspect of the Boys & Girls Clubs that really sets it apart from other childcare programs is the individualized and personalized care that kids and families receive from staff who tailor everything to fit each child’s and family’s needs — from programs to finances. “I think the most important thing about the club is that the kids have a sense of belonging,” says Moore. “They know they belong, and that the adults in this building are here for them. And we’re always stressing that to them: ‘This is your club. We are here for you. If you don’t like something, tell us. We’ll change it.’” Additionally, Moore says, “If you don’t have the money to attend the Boys & Girls Clubs, it doesn’t matter. We will not turn kids away because of financial reasons.”

While the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fauquier opens its doors to all, Moore says she is still on a mission to ensure the community is aware of all the resources and services the organization offers and that they are welcome to take part. “Warrenton knows we’re here, but I don’t think they know us, so I think our next job is to go out into neighborhoods and to let parents know that we’re here, that we’re a club for their kids, but we’re also responsible adults who will guide [their children] and we can be trusted,” she says.

As for why they choose to do this work, Bland says, “To provide a safe and inclusive environment for everybody. I want every kid and every parent to feel as though [the kids] can really [come] here, and when they leave, that they’re leaving with something — whether it’s a new skill or whether it’s in a better mood. That’s something that really resonates with me, making sure that everybody is safe here and everybody leaves with at least a little something every day.” Moore agrees: “Who doesn’t want to impact the lives of kids, of society, of the community?” she says. “That’s really what we’re doing. We have a chance to make a difference.”

Bgcfauquier.org
169 Keith Street, Warrenton | 11138 Marsh Road, Bealeton
540-349-8890
clubinfo@bgcfauquier.org

Staff/Contributed
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