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Gordon: Boys & Girls Club reaching out to other communities, hopes to help with opioid epidemic

Many in our community are aware of the positive influence and involvement the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster (BGCW) has on our youth. The organization has renovated the former PNC Bank building on East Main Street which has allowed for them to grow and support significantly more children. The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster is in the process of adding a gym onto this location, which will be completed soon, but they are not stopping there.

One of the significant challenges in our community is the opioid epidemic and while recent numbers regarding this are showing a slight downward trend, it is not a time to rest given the seriousness of the situation.

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The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster has been working with the Carroll County Health Department for some time to provide prevention programs to our youth in Westminster.

This year they have received funding to create a pilot program at the Westminster location called #bgcRISING, which focused on providing prevention and leadership programs to middle school and high school youth. The Health Department decided to expand prevention programs to other locations within the county and the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster applied for funding through an RFP (Request for Proposal). The funding was provided by the county commissioners through the Not In Carroll funding that was designated to the Health Department for the Opioid Crisis.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to pilot our programs into two new middle schools. This population is so vulnerable and need the skills and guidance we offer to make positive life choices,” said Bonnae Meshulam, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster.

It is a testament to both the seriousness of the opioid epidemic and our county commissioners and the Health Department that the opportunity was available to reach more of the children in our community. The opportunity to reach and educate children at an early age is paramount to positively changing the course on the opioid epidemic and other challenges children face.

The BGCW will begin running after-school enrichment programs two days per week at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown on Mondays and Wednesdays and at North Carroll Middle School in Hampstead on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The program will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on those days. Those interested in the program can contact Mollie Fisher at Boys & Girls Club of Westminster (mfisher@bgcwestminster.org) or sign up at the middle schools. Representatives from BGCW will be attending back to school nights at both Northwest Middle and North Carroll middle to answer questions regarding the program.

BGCW is partnering with the communities in Hampstead and Taneytown as the pilot programs roll out so that both the organization and the communities together have a positive influence. The programs provided at both Northwest Middle School and North Carroll Middle School will be core Boys & Girls Club programs in academic success, leadership and career development, healthy lifestyles, and the arts.

Without question these exciting programs will add an additional positive impact on the youth in our communities and this pilot program gives the Boys & Girls Club the opportunity to address the unique needs and challenges facing the youth of today.

After all, the children of today will be our future leaders, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, and trailblazers for the generations that follow them.

Tom Gordon, a member of the Board of Trustees for the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster, writes from Westminster. He writes every other Saturday. Email him at tgordonwrites@gmail.com

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