Boys & Girls club hoping changes will help reach more children

July 19, 2020 | 12:10 am

Updated July 19, 2020 | 10:52 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

By recently merging their two local units and offering virtual programming, Owensboro’s Cliff Hagan Boys & Girls Club is hoping to reach more children while also becoming more financially efficient.

Steve Winkler, executive director, said the Boys & Girls Club began to put together a plan a little more than a year ago in order to have a greater reach and have a greater impact on the lives of the children they serve.

Earlier this summer, they merged the C. Martel Wightman Unit with the Mike Horn Unit, located on the west side of Owensboro.


“We started analyzing our facilities and reaching out to people who were looking to have some kind of affiliation with us and so we kind of put this plan together of opening up Henderson and stabilizing our Owensboro club, which meant the merger of the Martel unit,” Winkler said.

The restructuring plan spans units across the region. In addition to Henderson, there is also a unit in Rockport, Ind. A unit in Ohio County is expected to open in August. Meanwhile, the unit in Butler County has also been merged with Owensboro.

All of the operations are run through the Owensboro unit. That means they can save costs by not needing an executive director in each location, but they can still offer the same programs everywhere.

“That presents us with a lot of different things — one is reaching more kids and the second is how we can better assess our programs and look at the buying power. … We have a lot more regional presence but still are able to put one organization under one umbrella,” Winkler said. “It’s all run by this main club, so it’s cost-saving. It becomes more of an impact by being able to use those funds more wisely.”

Winkler said while it is important for children to be in the building for socialization and so the staff can have conversations with them daily, safety is the top priority.

In the absence of operating the Wightman building, Winkler said that the former unit will be able to set children up for virtual learning. He said the club’s intention is also to transport those kids to the Mike Horn unit and provide some recreational activities.

Winkler said the club serves children aged 6-18 who are considered at risk. He said a few years ago, at-risk meant poverty. While that is still a big part of the program, he said the term has become much more encompassing.

“That term has really stretched over the last 25 years. We say it’s kids who need us the most now. Take kids after school and in the summers. We have either put them in education programs, health and lifestyle programs, community outreach or service programs. 

“That’s what we look at when we talk about community — the skills of that child. We try to target some sort of education value — which could be homework, education programs, healthy snack programs, recreation and the community life skills.”

Winkler said he thinks the merge is going to be mutually beneficial for both the club and the children.

“It’s a new dimension, a new twist of Boys & Girls Club simply because we feel like we can get better funders of writing grants and serving more kids,” he said. “We just feel like we can reach kids without a building so we can target more at-risk kids. We are able to offer these programs virtually.

July 19, 2020 | 12:10 am

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