(Seguin) -- The Boys & Girls Club South Central Texas is making an official return to Seguin. The group in April 2013 inherited the former Seguin Activity Center, but after only operating the program for just under a year, the Boys & Girls Club shut its doors in anticipation for this new round of new beginnings.
Although it's been almost three years, Boys & Girls club officials say they are committed more than ever to offer the program which is now the national leading youth organization in the country.
Adrian Rancier, the development and fundraising coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club, has worked for the organization for years. Her positions have taken her across the country and have allowed her to be a part of the implementation of new innovative programs throughout the organization. Rancier, who was raised in Seguin, says she has finally returned home and looks forward to being a part of the program that she herself was involved in as a child.
"One of the things that I found interesting about, when I started to research the history of the Boys Club here in Seguin is that the police and sheriff department were very instrumental in bringing this club to Seguin and having the doors open. So that's a long partnership between now Boys and Girls Clubs and the police department. I'm very excited about that. We always try to include the police department in programming, because we want the kids to view our police officers as partners and not just as a negative thing -- they're in trouble. So, we try to bring our officers in, play basketball with the kids, tutor, different things like that. The original club was a small place on Guadalupe Street and it opened in Aug. 1, 1965. A few years after that, they got some funding and with the backing of, I believe, Sheriff (Phil) Medlin was one of them. They opened the larger facility that we now have. So, I think we programmed there until the mid early 80's, late 70's and it became after that the Seguin Activity Center. As Elton mentioned earlier, it was returned to the Boys & Girls Club a couple of years ago. We had a girls club, I remember. One of them was downtown originally when I was younger and then the second I went to was on Ireland Street in a house and I remember I learned a lot of things. I read a lot of books. I learned how to crochet there. So it was very influential in my life also," said Rancier.
Rancier says the group hopes to officially reopen the club sometime in the next couple of months if not sooner. She says part of the plan is to not only invite new families but to also bring together alumni members and former volunteers and employees.
"If you go to Boys & Girls Club of South Central Texas Facebook page, there's an alumni button just for Seguin. So you can go in there, you can reach out to other alumni. You can find out what's going on, what's current. We're looking at having National Alumni Day at the end of March. We plan for it to be a great event, local media, kids, families, everybody is going to be welcome. It's going to be a fantastic day. We hope to have some NFL celebrities that are going to be there. We're looking forward to that and that will reconnect a lot of the alumni back to the club who now have kids and grand kids and they can feel safe about bringing their kids back," said Rancier.
Although the facility located on Zorn Street street has undergone some renovations in preparation for its reopening, a major challenge will be to equip it with an AC and heating unit -- something that always been of need for the building. Boys & Girls Club officials say its vital that all members are in not only a safe but comfortable environment. She says starting today, the organization will be seeking help to ensure the operation of the facility and its programs.
"Of course, we can use any type of AC and heating professionals that would like to come out and help us. Anyone whose retired or have extra time and maybe they have a certain set of skills like painting or an electrician, plumbing -- wants to give back, has some time on their hands. We would love to have that help. Of course, money is always welcome. We also are looking forward to having regular volunteers. If you have an interest in an arts and crafts or you're interested in education --you can help with the Power Hour, which is homework help, tutoring. There's lots of ways the community can get involved," said Rancier.
Elton Fite, the club programs and operations coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of South Central Texas, says they look to grow the program as the days continue.
"What we're looking at is starting off kind of small at first -- to do what we do best and the things that we do best are rooted in the areas of like education and sports and fitness and recreation. So we plan to start off small -- to bring in roughly about 50 to 100 kids and then start a summer program. Then multiply from there at the center," said Fite.
Fite says the Boys & Girls Club, however, is not just for youth. He says it's for anybody in the community and is designed to focus on the individual family.
"Boys and Girls Clubs is a great opportunity for everybody. Not just the kids that it serves, the community, their families, everything. We have a program called Family plus that is you know very instrumental in getting the families involved with their children. Of course, everybody is on a hectic schedule of trying to keep the lights on, trying to keep the water flowing through the house and that kind of thing. So time that kids spend with families is diminishing to keep the lights on. Boys & Girls Club is very instrumental in doing things like cookouts, come over and play some board games with the kids, let's just hang out type of stuff to where the kids and families reconnect to get that strong family bond again and so Boys and Girls Club is a whole lot deeper than just an after to school program. It's a way of life. We got a saying, that 'we bleed blue' meaning we believe that to the fullest, most definitely. We want to impact the community to feel like they bleed blue as well. We want them to know that the Boys & Girls Club is here. We're ready to serve. We're wanting to help," said Fite.
Rancier says she hopes the city of Seguin welcomes the investment being made in the community. She says investments like these have shown real benefits for over a century.
"The original mission of the Boys Club, when the doors opened over 140 years ago in Boston, was to get the kids -- the street boys -- off the street and have them do something productive. That's still our mission. We have a lot of kids that after school, they have no programming to go to. They go home. They're latchkey kids and that's when they get into trouble. Most kids get into trouble between three and six p.m. Monday through Friday so those are when our doors are open where the kids can come. It's not income based at all. One of the great things we know of our Boys and Girls Club, we can bring in all kids, but the other side of that is we need the funding. We're a non-profit 501(c)3 so we can only do as much as we bring in. So it's very important that the community buy into the organization to help get these kids this programming and then also in the summer time. It is a membership," said Rancier.
Again, former members of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Seguin are encouraged to visit the group's Facebook page. Anyone having a monetary or in-kind donation are also asked to contact Rancier at 512-557-1540. Details of the grand opening are slated to be released within the next few weeks.