Community

Boys & Girls Club Director Wants to Be Seen

The Boys & Girls Club (BGC) occupies the largest space of any of the near dozen partner agencies at the Southeast Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC), and it aims to get bigger.

One of four clubs in the city, the Friedman, Billings, Ramsey (FBR) branch has been housed at THEARC since its opening in 2015 and offers a wide range of activities in an effort to engage students in the vulnerable community.

BGC of Greater Washington is a major metro affiliate of that national Boys & Girls Clubs of America organization with 14 sites that serve over 11,000 students each year. Over 4,000 autonomous clubs exist in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Erin Martin, the FBR club’s interim program director, said relationships the club has with the surrounding community are just as important to its survival as the relationships it builds with its members.

Martin, who has held her position since January, is responsible for the overall operation of the club and already has plans to grow the club’s community relations.

“I’m responsible for the overall development and administration of the FBR branch,” Martin said.

Her job includes handling finances and leading a staff of 10. Though the club receives most of its funding from grants, Martin is always looking for way to market it.

“[Physically] above us is the Washington School for Girls, ArtReach and Trinity at THEARC, so that should give you some perspective for our size,” Martin said. “Because we have such a large space, we do have people who come to use it for events. These opportunities are incredibly important to my vision as they increase our visibility in the community.”

The facility is equipped with a regulation gym, game room, computer lab and teen center and study lounge. It serves about 140 students a day, most them coming from elementary and middle school.

Martin says she seeks to capitalize on events with other organizations to increase rental revenue and membership.

“Some opportunities seem small, but can be really big,” Martin said, recounting a time when a volunteer service provider became a sponsor.

The club has received renovations from Best Buy, and gets frequent visits from Ward Council member Trayon Martin. Martin says rentals and partnerships are great additions to program offering which are most important to the success of the club and its members.

“We’re making sure we’re creating impactful programming,” Martin said.

The five core areas of focus at the FBR branch are education and career development; character and leadership development; health and life skills; sports, fitness and recreation; and the arts. The club offers over a dozen program activities including homework assistance, teen character building groups, ceramics, culinary arts, soccer and basketball.

“I think what makes our club different [from others in the area] is our teen center and the work that Levar Jones does with them, as well as the untraditional programs we offer to kids like yoga and lacrosse, and Saturday programming,” Martin said. “I’m going to keep doing my part to increase our visibility in the community.”

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Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer

Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.

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