Rotary grant provides high tech tools for Boys & Girls Club

Courtesy photo: Children in the Elementary Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Brookings enjoy an activity for their “NASA: Mission to Mars” experience with a real astronaut via Zoom, thanks in part to technology provided by the Brookings Rotary Club.

BROOKINGS – Young people who participate in the Boys & Girls Club of Brookings have received an assist in technology as well as career preparation advice, thanks to the Brookings Rotary Club and Rotary International District 5610.

Supported by a special district grant opportunity offered in response to the pandemic’s impact on communities, the Brookings Rotary Club was able to purchase five computer screens, five televisions and support equipment with the grant, supplemented by club funds. In addition, club members and other community leaders were interviewed virtually by BGCB staff about various topics related to career preparedness, and those interviews are now available for the young people to review as part of their academic success programming options at BGCB.

“The BGCB implemented significant operational changes when the spread of the virus resulted in a heavy dependence on technology to continue quality programming, including academic success programs,” said Nicole Biever, the Rotarian who wrote the district grant. “Supplementing the technology options available helped the Boys & Girls Club provide needed additional equipment to offer virtual programming to our young people.” And even after all programming resumes in-person, the equipment will be used by teachers to help them assist and track progress of program participants, especially low- and average-achieving students.

The BGCB expressed gratitude for the gift. “The TVs and computers donated by Rotary have been such an asset to our Clubs this school year,” said Erinn Thomas, Teen Center director. “With the additional technology, our kids have had the opportunity to connect with their communities despite COVID-19 restrictions through online and Zoom programming. We have been able to talk to astronauts, learn from SDSU students, and even meet with pen pals across the country.”

In addition to the equipment, valued at $2,000, Rotarians also stepped up to offer their real-world advice on career preparation. Six Rotarians and community leaders were interviewed, providing advice on the importance of academic preparation, community involvement and personal integrity as necessary components of workforce readiness. Participating in the hour-long interviews that are now available for students to view were Rotarians Rebecca Herman, Kay Norton, Yvette Campbell, Jackie Lanning and Don Norton. Also contributing time and expertise was Dan McColley.

“Our teens in Workforce Development enjoyed watching the Career Readiness videos filmed by Rotarians,” noted Thomas. “Having the opportunity to still be able to connect with community members despite all that’s going on was very beneficial. We are thankful for the additional resources to expose our kids to impactful programming outside our doors when it is unsafe or we are unable to physically do so!”

Rotary Club President Don Norton said this was another example of Rotarians collaborating with other organizations to improve community quality of life. “This grant was a great opportunity for the Brookings Rotary Club to help the young people in our community during a time that has been especially challenging for them,” said Club President Don Norton. “The project specifically addressed basic education and literacy, which is one of the six areas of service of Rotary International, and we were able to implement this assistance right here in our own community.”

The Brookings Rotary Club is part of Rotary International, a 116-year-old service organization with 35,000 clubs and more than 1.2 million members around the globe. The local club, which celebrated its centennial anniversary last year, meets at noon each Tuesday, currently via Zoom, and guests and prospective members are welcome.

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