Ouachita Baptist University’s Students in Free Enterprise group was honored to receive a grant from the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation to remodel the teen area of the Clark County Boys & Girls Club. The team initially received a $1,200 grant in January and, after submitting their Impact Report to SIFE USA and Lowe’s Charitable Education Foundation in June, was awarded a second grant of $2,000 in September.
“We saw that the area of the Boys & Girls Club for middle school and older students was not really an encouraging, inviting atmosphere for that age group of students,” senior SIFE member Britta Stamps explained. “The Boys & Girls Club is in the old Goza Middle School gym so some areas of the facility are showing signs of age. The carpet on the floor was dirty and ripped in some areas. There was no quiet, comfortable place for kids to read. There was no storage for the games for their PS3 & Wii. There was nothing on the walls.
“When we heard about the grant, we knew we could make a huge difference in the environment these kids spend every afternoon in,” Stamps said. “The director of the Boys & Girls Club wanted to improve the space but since it was the first year the Boys & Girls Club had been open, they did not have the resources to take on the project at that time. They worked with us to design and plan the new space around the needs and preferences of the kids.”
The response to the remodeling project has been overwhelmingly positive. “After we remodeled the space, the kids were eager to go there. Several of the kids said they were so happy to have a quiet place to read in the reading nook we created for them,” Stamps said. “It is also teaching the kids responsibility and ownership. Many of the children who attend the Boys & Girls Club have never had such a nice space to spend time in, and the director of the Boys & Girls Club is using this new space to teach them to keep the area nice, clean and organized.”
After the remodel, the Boys & Girls Club was filled to capacity for their summer program. The SIFE team continues to go there once a week to teach a class for the teens. In the spring, they taught a “Money Matters” class.
“In our Money Matters class, we addressed important economic factors. The children learned everything from saving for large purchases and gifts to saving for college,” explained Chris Chandler, SIFE project leader for the weekly classes. “The older students were taught about credit scores and investments while younger students learned the basics of savings and debts. An entire unit of the course was devoted to teaching entrepreneurship. Essentially, we empowered the children to make informed decisions about how to spend their money.”
“Smart Moves,” the class they are teaching this semester, seeks to provide the children with positive knowledge, skills and peer support necessary to combat everyday issues such as substance abuse and sexual relations.
SIFE USA has partnerships with several companies that provide grants to SIFE teams for various projects such as the Boys & Girls Club. The grant OBU SIFE received was from the Lowe’s Charitable Education Foundation to be used to improve community areas. Out of 150 teams to apply for the original $1,200 grant, 50 were selected. Of those 50, 25 teams could receive an additional grant of $2,000 to be used for general SIFE expenses.
“After receiving the initial grant, teams had to submit an Impact Report about the project and work they did with the grant,” Stamps explained. “We worked all during the spring semester and submitted our Impact Report in June.”
Because the second award does not have to be used for the Boys & Girls Club project, SIFE is dividing it among all their projects.
“We will use part of the money to buy the prizes for the Boys & Girls Club kids in the weekly class we teach there,” Stamps said. “We will also use it for transportation to a women’s shelter in central Arkansas as we work with women there and purchase new clothes for them to wear to job interviews. Another large portion of the money will be spent on our new Heart for Honduras project as we develop sponsorship packets for orphanages there.”
Chris McGough, director of the Clark County Boys & Girls Club, said he has been very impressed by the SIFE team, noting, “They are amazing. Not only did they donate their time and money, they did all the work and continue to come and volunteer. They are definitely appreciated.”
For more information about the SIFE projects or how to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Nicci Fillinger