Mar. 27—RUSHVILLE — On March 13, 2020, the Boys and Girls Club of Rush County shut down due to COVID-19. Staff, members and visitors were not permitted into the building and the club was forced to become creative to still reach its members.
During this time, the club became "virtual" for the first time in the history of the Boys & Girls Club of Rush County. This was a very challenging time as it was a first for everyone.
Staff took turns recording virtual activities and even messages for members to keep in touch with them.
"We were still able to continue to communicate with the members in a positive, educational manner. Many members looked forward each day to seeing what new activity they could participate in, or what staff member had a message for them that day," Quinn Leisure, Unit Director, noted.
Beginning in April, the Club had the opportunity to offer meals to youth under the age of 19. "Again, this was a first for us. We served over 15,000 meals over the next six weeks," Leisure added.
Each Wednesday, with the help of Gettinger Custom Meats and RCS (providing cold storage space), the community could drive through the club's parking lot and staff members would place the meal bags in the vehicles to maintain social distancing. All staff were required to take their temperatures before entering the building and wear a mask at all times.
RCS also sent meals home on Wednesdays. Families were permitted to go through both car lines.
During quarantine, most families experienced their first holiday away from loved ones.
"We again became creative and decided to 'Easter Egg My House'," Leisure noted. "This event was open to any local family at zero cost. Our staff, while masked up and social distancing, traveled to 79 houses and provided hidden Easter Eggs to over 200 youth."
While the building was closed, the club was able to have the outside of the building sealed and painted along with the installation of epoxy flooring throughout the facility.
With updated safety and cleaning protocols, the club was able to open for Summer Camp in June 2020.
The club's day-to-day routine looked very different, and still does in many ways today. All staff and youth were required to get their temperature taken and answer a health questionnaire prior to entering the building each day. Both members and staff were masked up and socially distanced.
Both staff and members were provided hand sanitizer and masks. The youth were assigned to groups with the same staff members serving each group daily.
For drop-off/pick-up, parents now call the club instead of entering the building. Although the routine was different, both staff and members adjusted quickly. Once school started, and still today, youth are assigned to groups by age and are on daily rotations. Masks were, and still are, required by anyone in the building.
When school had to close due to the staffing shortage from COVID-19, the club was able to open its doors and provide a safe, positive environment for members to complete their eLearning. During this time, RCS provided support and excellent communication with the staff to ensure eLearning was as simple and successful as possible.
The club continued its winter basketball program with the cooperation of parents and children. During the season, masks were required by coaches and spectators at all times, spectator numbers were also limited. Although this wasn't the ideal situation, everyone remained positive and thankful the youth could be active.
These times are very trying and different for everyone at the club, especially the youth.
"We remain positive and committed to serving those who need us most and offering new programs for not only youth, but toddlers and adults too," Leisure added.
Contact Aaron Kirchoff at firstname.lastname@example.org