The Boys & Girls Club of Vineland became a chartered member of Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2004. The Club started off in the back of an Episcopal Church in Vineland, NJ with a small group of youth and three ongoing programs. Since then, the organization has grown to over 520 registered members attending programs at two sites in Vineland. The City of Vineland, the largest city in square miles in the State, is mostly rural and boasts a large Hispanic population (52%). Vineland has many challenges facing its young people, including having the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the State, and high unemployment and poverty rates.
The Club offers programs that empower youth and help to rebuild their integrity and self-esteem. At the same time, it helps to reduce the community juvenile delinquency problem. In essence, the Club shapes and saves children’s lives every day by providing a safe place to go after school and keeping youth involved in educational, healthy lifestyle, cultural, community service and fitness/recreational activities.
The Vineland Club is open to all greater Vineland, NJ (and Cumberland County) area youth, first grade through high school. Programs are offered at two sites in Vineland: The Youth for Change Center and The Carl Arthur Recreation Center. The Club also offers programs at several area schools throughout the county in collaboration with the Cumberland Empowerment Zone (21st Century Learning Center) and community centers/family success centers as part of the Youth for Success Initiative, a countywide coalition effort that is funded by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
The organization recently celebrated its 12th Anniversary of serving youth and has provided life-changing programs to thousands of young people in the last decade. Its new 4,500 square foot teen center recently opened and features a colorful mural which depicts diversity and boasts inspirational messages. Chris Volker, Chief Professional Officer states: “The building may be small, but good things come in small packages, and we intend to make the new teen center a viable place for teens to come and enjoy interesting programs, events and activities.”
This year marked an extraordinary honor for the Club when Vineland Club member, Alexia L., was named the 2016 NJ State Youth of the Year. This represents back to back State winners from the Vineland Club with Jennifer N. named as the 2015 NJ State Youth of the Year. The Club is most dedicated to making a difference in young people’s lives and will continue to provide life-changing programs to thousands of youth in the next decade and beyond!