By Emily Banks Wooten
The Rotary Club of Livingston learned more about Boys & Girls Club recently when Brandon Reece and Steven Davidson presented a program. Reece serves as the program director for the Boys & Girls Club of Polk County’s facility on Liberty Avenue and Davidson serves as president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Deep East Texas.
Locally, there is the original Boys & Girls Club at the facility on Liberty Avenue and there is also a Boys & Girls Club program at Livingston Junior High School that is funded through a 21st Century grant for underperforming students.
Reece explained that through the afterschool program at the facility, children are bused over from schools and that three days a week they are provided snacks and two days a week they are provided a meal.
“We help them with life skills. Kids have always been in my heart. They need to feel loved and cared for on this life journey,” Reece said.
“We were gracefully able to do toys for the kids at Christmas this year,” he said, relaying a story in which one student, after receiving the gift, said, “Thank you. This may be the only gift I get this Christmas.”
Commenting that he has been here all his life, Reece said, “Bring the kids. I love this program. I love Polk County.”
Davidson provided some more information regarding the program. He said the facility is open from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer.“We provide meals during the summer months. We try to keep our fees considerably low so everyone can attend,” he said, noting that the cost is $75 during the school year and $75 during the summer.
Regarding the Boys & Girls Club program at the junior high school, Davidson said there are 375 youth that are being provided services through the program and that those students are seen almost on a daily basis. He said meals are provided from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday for those students too.
Davidson said Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins has been very supportive and that the school district provides transportation home for the participating students.
He said the students meet from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for six weeks during the summer and participate in a book nook program in which their reading level is determined and benchmarks are established. Tutoring services are provided with a ratio of three students to one teacher. Various enrichments programs are available as well, including a garden club, a yearbook club with newsletters, a theater club, robotics and STEM in the spring, a cooking club that ties in with social studies and field trips.
“We have a lot of things going on. We appreciate all your support of the club,” Davidson said.