One year down, many more to go

Boys & Girls Club making difference in community

Leader Staff

Leader Photo by Greg Mellis Ava and Alexis Morales enjoy ice cream while watching Emmalynn Cook stack cups during the Boys and Girls after school program this week at Olga Brener Intermediate School. Boys and Girls Club of Shawano celebrated its one-year anniversary with an ice cream social for kids attending the program. The program is for students in grades 3-5. The program started with six kids and has grown to 52 members with an average school day attendance of 40.

What began as a class project for the 2014 Leadership Shawano County class today celebrates its first successful year of operation. The Boys & Girls Club of Shawano has watched its youth participation numbers more than quadruple in 12 months.

The Boys & Girls Club of Shawano “has made great strides in its first year serving youth in grades three through five at Olga Brener Intermediate School,” said Wendy Crawford, Leadership Shawano County coordinator and chairman of the BGC Shawano board of directors.

Crawford said they began with 12 students, but “Today, our program now serves 51 students. Participation increased as more students and parents became aware of the club, and word spread about how much participants really enjoy the afterschool enrichment. Our partnership with the Shawano School District has created a great foundation on which to build the BGC Shawano.”

The club’s mission is to enable all young people, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.

“The club offers participants hands-on educational activities, homework help, social-emotional learning, team-building activities, leadership development, fitness and recreation, development of workplace readiness skills and community service opportunities,” said Kim Lodewegen, BGC Shawano site director. “Club members read individually with residents at Kindred Hearts Care Center, and they also make ‘plarn’ — a type of yarn made from recycled plastic bags, which is used to crochet mats sent to Haiti as a part of hurricane relief efforts.”

Lodewegen said the club will soon launch two new math enrichment programs. One program, in cooperation with Olga Brener staff, will provide club members assistance in their elementary math studies; the second program seeks to increase interest in math by illustrating its daily applications.

“One of our goals for this year is to increase partnership with other organizations serving the community’s youth,” Crawford said. “One new partnership will see high school-aged 4-H junior leaders teach club members about the agriculture industry in Wisconsin. Another new partnership will include Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College, to share future educational opportunities and career options.”

“The club brings so much energy and enthusiasm to our members,” Lodewegen said. “It’s infectious! It’s so fulfilling to see how much excitement our activities bring to our members.”

“Our success is a true story of success for the entire community,” Crawford said. “So many sectors of our community have come together to build BGC Shawano from the ground up. The Shawano School District Board of Education, administration, faculty and staff have been tremendous partners in the club. We’re also very fortunate to receive tremendous assistance from our parent organization, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, which provides administrative and staff support. Without their assistance, we would not be where we’re at today. And, Kim Lodewegen and her staff have been instrumental in bringing the club’s goals and mission to a reality.

“The true heroes of BGC Shawano are the businesses, community organizations, foundations and individuals who provide financial support,” Crawford said. “We are funded entirely through the generosity of these benefactors. Their individual and collective support is greatly appreciated.”

New members are being accepted at the Boys & Girls Club Shawano. For information about activities or registration, write to Lodewegen at or visit