The COVID-19 pandemic brought special challenges for organizations that work with children, and the Boys and Girls Club of Gadsden/Etowah County was no exception.
Schools closed their doors that spring, and the club had to as well. From April 2020 to the end of December 2020, club Executive Director Dorothea Rhodes said, the club was closed.
Families who relied on the club for afterschool programs and more had to find other options.
Rhodes said when the club started offering its programs again, they'd lost some members. This month, the club has some activities aimed at reintroducing itself and its offerings to the community.
It starts Wednesday afternoon, with a grand reopening of the "refreshed, renewed and revealed" Boys and Girls Club at 2000 W. Meighan Blvd. in Gadsden.
"We're inviting the community to learn about the programs we have to off," Rhodes said, including ACT prep, free tutoring — offered through Zoom or face to face — and programs to teach students to express themselves through music, poetry, and dance.
"We want to reintroduce ourselves," Rhodes said, including the new leadership and new programs at the club. The club serves children throughout Etowah County, and offers pickup after school from all Gadsden City schools near its location.
Rhodes said the club continues to seek donations to help provide transportation, so students can be picked up from more locations without children being left waiting for extended periods of time at any school.
She said the club would like to be able to pick up students from Attalla schools, but the time it would take to get there and get back to other schools makes it impossible without expanding available transportation.
The reopening is from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, and will offer refreshments, tours of the club, information about its programs and membership, and door prizes.
On Dec. 12, Rhodes said, the club will host a fundraising motorcy ride to benefit its programs, Christmas activities and assistance, and scholarships for membership.
Registration begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at the club, with kickstands up at 11:30 a.m. Donation plates will be available.
Registration fee for riders is $20, $10 for passengers. There's a "best bike" contest also — to be judged by club kids — with a $10 entry fee. Money raised will go into the club's general fund budget, she said.
Rhodes said the club will host a party from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 17 for children ages 12 to 19.
"We want to offer them a safe place to come and socialize and have fun," she said.
Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Boys and Girls Club hosts events to inform public of its programs