Our nation has faced many uncertainties over the past several months as we have grappled with the impact the coronavirus has had on our lives. We knew the difficulties that families face every day, including the struggle with childcare and knowing where their child's next meal would come from, would get even worse as this public health crisis grew.

Paris Boys & Girls Club Director Elaina Damante said that the Club has been instrumental in feeding the Paris community's children this summer.

"This summer, we have served over 3600 meals."

The Paris Boys & Girls Club is well-positioned to address the challenges our children face daily, even during these unprecedented times with COVID-19. The Club is a comprehensive youth development skill-building program that assists Logan County children and teens with afterschool and summer support. In addition to reading and math instruction, children also learn about college, career, job readiness, workforce skills development, leadership development and volunteerism as part of their mission. But due to COVID-19, the Paris Boys & Girls Club is operating with limited enrollment and a State-mandated ratio of 9 to 1 members to staff.

"Education is a big part of our summer programming. We work on math, reading, research, and many other subjects. We want our children to go into the school year prepared for another great year of learning."

With the limited enrollment and mandated member to staff ratio, Damante said that the Club is struggling financially and lacks funds to operate.

"Summer is usually our most difficult time financially because we are open ten hours a day instead of three. All of our costs go up; staffing, material costs for programming, utilities. This is especially true this summer because of the extra steps we are taking to ensure we can follow our cleaning and sanitizing protocols, and our lower ratios while still being able to serve the families that need us most."

Currently, due to the pandemic, the Club also has staff whose only job is to sanitize and clean the facility, which has allowed the organization to have cleaning and sanitizing procedures that exceed what the ADH recommends with a grant paying for the cleaning only staff.

Along with the limited enrollment, member to staff ratio, and the already difficult financial season, the Club has not been able to host fundraisers to provide additional funds for the added financial burdens.

"We had to cancel our April YOY Fundraiser due to COVID. We depend on these fundraisers to keep our Club open. Donations are down 90 percent due to COVID. We have written grants, but the grants are limited and short term."

The last day of the summer program will be July 31, and the Club has had to delay opening in the fall for its afterschool program due to the school start date being pushed back.

"With the first day of school being pushed back, the first day of our afterschool program will also be pushed back. We will be utilizing the time between summer and after school for deep cleaning and sanitizing, and Staff Development."

The Boys & Girls Club commitment to not only the youth they serve, but the community as a whole, only gets stronger in times of crisis, but that resolve can only get the Club so far as they face lost revenue and financial instability as demand for the services increase and extra safety precautions are required. The Paris Boys & Girls Club knows they are not the only nonprofit facing a financial quandary of how to continue to provide critical services and aid to the community while also keeping our doors open, staff compensated, and resources stocked. Still, to continue providing services, they need financial assistance.

"Even the smallest donation has a huge impact. $10 a month allows us to scholarship a child for the entire school year. Although COVID has had an impact on the Club, like it has so many others, as long as the Governor continues to allow summer camps and after school programs, we will stay open for our members and families that need us most."

The Club is also needing new game pants for their 3rd and 4th graders.

Damante said that as far as fundraisers go, the Club is currently planning on hosting its annual Golf Tournament on September 12. Information regarding the tournament can be found on the Club's website at www.bgcdiamondhills.org/events, Facebook page, or by contacting Sandra O'Brien.

To make a donation to the Club or to become a sponsor, contact the Club at 479-963-3577.