Mary and Samantha Willems say they love the art room at the Boys & Girls Club.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Mary and Samantha Willems say they love the art room at the Boys & Girls Club.

The Boys & Girls Club makes a difference daily for Craig kids

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Half of Craig’s children ages six to 14 will at some point during the year head to the same spot after school — the Boys & Girls Club.

That means that nearly 900 children during 2013 used the after-school program.

Dana Duran, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Boys & Girls Club, is proud to be leading the organization, which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year.

“We couldn’t do it without the community. We are forever thankful. We got 100 years to go,” she said, “I’m thankful for the donations and the community. In order for us to be around for another 10 to 100 years, we rely on the community.”

They feed the kids hot meals every day, and with 125 children showing up each day on average, that means the organization serves about 20,000 meals a year. It’s no small feat, and the Boys & Girls Club isn’t just about taking care of kids’ basic needs — it’s also about helping them grow into upstanding citizens, Duran said.

The club teaches the participants “cowboy ethics” to inspire a sense of civic duty and honor.

“We use this as a culture within the club,” she said.

Children in the program have access to gym, art and recreational activities as well as tutoring and general homework help.

They focus their activities on age groups: making sure they have activities that appeal to the children they attend to. The teen room handles much different issue than elementary-school-aged groups.

Teenaged participants build on the foundations of civics the club provides to younger age groups.

“It’s age appropriate for those middle school kids. We focus on character, leadership, health and wellness and a lot of service,” said Craig Club Director Kim Maneotis.

“Teaching them to give back to others, service to club and service to community,” she said.

About 15 to 35 teens show up for the teen program each day, and the Boys & Girls Club facilitates leadership training and service-oriented work. The teens are currently putting together a shoe-drive to donate footwear to Africa, as well as ongoing local service-work.

“We do service projects and character and leadership,” Maneotis said. “That’s the philosophy of the Boys & Girls Club.”

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.

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