Boys and Girls Club tapped for uniform, field improvements
Assembly members secure $100,000 in state funds
A local Boys and Girls Club recently received a six-digit monetary boost thanks to its state elected officials.
Last week the Capitol Heights-Seat Pleasant Boys and Girls Club received a total of $100,000 in combined state bond bill money from Democratic District 24 Dels. Tiffany Alston of Mitchellville, Carolyn J.B. Howard of Landover and Michael Vaughn of Mitchellville and state Sen. Joanne C. Benson of Landover.
The delegates secured $75,000 and Benson secured $25,000, money that will go toward buying a van to transport kids to and from events, as well as uniforms, equipment and renting a home field for the football team the clubs hopes to form this fall. Bond bills are state monies awarded to community groups and jurisdictions for expansion projects.
Club President Darrell Miller said he requested the bond bill and drew from his experience lobbying for state money as the former mayor of incorporated Capitol Heights.
Miller said the Capitol Heights Boys and Girls Club has been around since the 1970s but has been stagnant in the past four to five years due to low participation. Miller said the club always included children from nearby Seat Pleasant, which prompted the club to change its name to reflect participation from both communities. There are about 30 children in the club now, Miller said.
The club is also partnering with Upper Marlboro-based Men Aiming Higher Inc., a nonprofit mentor group for young men between the ages of 16 and 29, headed by president Darryl Barnes.
Miller said Barnes, also one of five club board members, has been invaluable as a supporter of going after the bond bill and offering other programs such as tutoring and karate.
"We're trying to do more than just sports," Miller said. "We recognized we have a lot of youth in this area and besides just doing sports we want to make sure they're improving educationally and getting the other support they need so they can be better men and women when they grow up."
Barnes said the male involvement piece, in which mentors teach boys to look someone in the eye when they talk to someone, sit up straight and pull up their pants, is key. He said Men Aiming Higher Inc. also partners with Lanham nonprofit mentor group Sisters4Sisters Inc. to reach out to young women.
"Many of these kids come from social and economic despair," Barnes said. "They don't have male involvement in their lives."
But since sports are at the core of most county Boys and Girls clubs, Miller said there are plans to add t-ball this spring and football this fall. The club just finished its basketball season for youth 18 and under. The club's board of directors is looking into reserving a home football field at either the Millwood Neighborhood Recreational Park on Shady Glen Drive or a field at Oakcrest Community Center on Marlboro Pike. The bond bill money would also need to go toward concessions and bleacher seating, Barnes said.
Miller said he will spend this summer putting up signs and knocking on doors throughout the Capitol Heights and Seat Pleasant areas to spread the word about the club.