With the support of the John T. Gorman Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine (BGCSM) is launching a new program to provide services to families in temporary living situations at hotels in South Portland.
On April 11, BGCSM will begin providing transportation to 240 youth (ages 6-18) from the Quality Inn and Howard Johnson Hotel in South Portland to the Boys & Girls Clubs in Portland and South Portland. Kids will participate in traditional BGCSM enrichment programs, including homework help, art, music, STEM, and leadership programs. Attendees will also receive a snack after school and dinner before returning to the hotel. The program is scheduled to run through summer, with special activities for April vacation.
“This has been a pressing need in our community for some time,” says Baba Ly, BCGSM Senior Program D0irector. “Bringing the kids to our Clubs will not only provide a safe and enriching place for them to go after school each day, but will also alleviate some stressors for parents and allow them that time to access their own support.”
A bus will pick up 120 students at each hotel after school and drop them off at the Clubs each day. A later bus will return to pick up teens and deliver them to the Clubs. Kids will participate in a slate of activities each day for the remainder of the school year. Over the summer, programs will focus on preventing summer learning loss. The Clubs will also offer weekly field trips and regular opportunities to get outside and enjoy the summer in Maine.
“Based on the incredible level of interest this afterschool programming is receiving, it’s very clear that these families appreciate the opportunity for their children to keep learning and building connections after the school day is done,” said Jennifer Beck, Vice President of Programs at the John T. Gorman Foundation. “An especially valuable aspect of this program is how children will not only benefit from the hours of high-quality programming, but their caregivers as well in receiving more time to secure what they need for themselves and their families. The John T. Gorman Foundation is proud to support this expansion and truly appreciates the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine for putting the pieces together so quickly to meet this challenge.”
BGCSM has been working collaboratively with Gateway Community Services and South Portland Public Schools to establish community connections and employ multi-lingual staff. The Clubs and community partners will continue to explore long-term solutions if families remain in hotel accommodations beyond the summer. “At the heart of our mission is to provide safe environments and the chance to build mentoring relationships with our youth development leaders,” says Brian Elowe, CEO of BGCSM. “We are grateful to the John T. Gorman Foundation for funding this critical initiative which allows us to provide much needed opportunities for the unhoused youth in South Portland.”