McALLEN — The Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen will soon be welcoming back kids to their facilities, but not without a few stipulations.
The club has begun registration for its eight-week summer program, which is scheduled to kickoff on Monday, June 8.
According to Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen, staff were forced to close their doors on March 23 due to COVID-19. Since then, they’ve utilized their resources to assist those in need.
“Since then, we’ve definitely served thousands of meals to our neediest families,” Alcantar said. “We did a needs-assessment, and we had some drive-thru food-pickups for our members. We actually helped through donors. We were actually able to help pay for rent for some of our families. That was a blessing.”
Alcantar said the club created content to engage with members through virtual programs, such as Zoom, as a means of staying connected with members and assessing their needs.
Toward the end of April, the club was given clearance from the city of McAllen to reopen and provide services to essential workers.
“We provided childcare for essential workers, and we provided that free of charge in partnership with the city of McAllen,” Alcantar said. “It was really great to hear the stories of some of the parents. Most of them were with the McAllen police. They didn’t have childcare, they didn’t have anyone, so they were really needing to choose between their work and their children. Of course, they chose their children. This was a godsend to them.”
Alcantar said the club began implementing safety protocols at that time, which will continue to be in place during the upcoming summer program.
These safety protocols include checking the temperature of everyone who enters the facilities, a buzzer notifying everyone to wash hands every hour, no sharing of supplies, social distancing and mandatory wearing of masks.
“We were already practicing for the good news that Governor (Greg) Abbott gave us that said that we are ready to open up for youth camps,” Alcantar said. “Since then, we did receive approval from our board to begin camp June 8.”
The club started a soft launch for registration for the club’s neediest children. They were contacted by the club to make sure that they had an opportunity to participate. This is due in large part to the limited space available in comparison to recent programs.
This year’s summer program will be operating with 25% of its normal participants.
“We will actually be limited to only 100 campers to every one of our facilities,” Alcantar said. “Last year we had over 400 kids at each clubhouse.”
The club has two facilities: the Othal E. Brand Center, located at 2620 W. Galveston Ave., and the Glen E. and Rita K. Roney Center, located at 4501 N. 34th St.
McAllen ISD will also allow the club to utilize two of its school facilities for the summer camp: Andrew Jackson Elementary, located at 501 Harvey Ave., and Theodore Roosevelt Elementary, located at 4801 S. 26th St.
With four facilities available, this will bring the total number of camp participants to 400.
“We wouldn’t be able to do that without the school district, so that was awesome,” Alcantar said.
Registration for the summer program is now open to the public, but spots are limited. To sign up, visit the club’s website at www.bgcmcallen.net.