Murray Boys & Girls Club serves front-line workersJun 15, 2020 12:05PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
During the unprecedented pandemic crisis, Murray’s Miller Boys & Girls Club transformed its efforts to serve kids and families, especially those of front-line workers. The club provided emergency childcare to kids while their parents work in places like emergency rooms, while general childcare centers had to close down.
The Miller Boys & Girls Club location has been operating as Emergency Care Centers (ECC) as part of the One Utah Child Care system. These centers serve the kids of first responders, medical personnel, and other essential workers critical to maintaining Utah’s medical and public safety operations during the pandemic.
Also, since March 30, over 15,500 meals have been distributed to children and families by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake (BGCGSL). In conjunction with partners Waste Less Solutions, USANA Kids Eats, the Utah Food Bank, and other donors, BGCGSL has been able to make “grab ‘n’ go” breakfasts and lunches, along with pantry and food items available to families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are happy we could provide support for medical and essential workers through One Utah Child Care,” Murray Club Director Andi Whitesides said.
As an ECC, it has served several families and has an enrollment of 13 kids. However, regular patrons were prevented from attending the club due to the ECC regulations. Instead, club staff had to innovate new ways to meet kids’ needs.
“During this pandemic, we are trying to offer several different services to meet the different needs of our families,” Whitesides said. “We are providing food bags and boxes to help families who are experiencing food insecurity at this time. We are also providing a variety of different virtual programming, including activities like cooking, soccer, or STEM to keep our youth engaged in our programming and busy but also providing some homework support by hosting Zoom meetings where our youth can log on and get help with their school work.”
COVID-19’s disruption in everyone’s daily lives has caused anxiety, especially for youth. Isolation and changed routines have compounded the problem that the club staff has noticed in their online meetings with the kids.
According to Whitesides, “I think the main struggle we see with our club members is with mental health, now even more so. Many of our youth come to the club without even realizing it to learn conflict resolution and coping skills. They have a place to put a label on their emotion and work through it with an adult they trust, and right now, that is missing. Isolation is hard for everyone but adds emotions that you still don’t quite understand, the level of uncertainty we all are experiencing right now, and not being considered old enough to understand.
“From the time schools and the club closed on March 11, our teen program created virtual meetings and space where our youth can discuss what is going on right now. They can talk about their fears or frustrations which allows them to recognize the feelings surrounding this interesting time we are living in. It helps them know they are not alone in those feelings; that what they are experiencing is valid and that many people in our club but also our country are also experiencing.”
The Miller Boys & Girls Club will reopen for its summer programs on June 18 under new guidelines. The club will have limited slots available to provide appropriate social distancing. The Murray facility recently renovated last year to include expanded classrooms and activity areas. More information can be found online at www.gslclubs.org.