The Boys & Girls Club runs in Jaylen’s family. He, his mom and his grandma are all Club kids. See how the experience has changed and shaped their lives.
My favorite thing about my Boys & Girls Club is how they support every kid no matter what. And with all the problems in the world today, kids could definitely use a little more support and hope for the future.
Like if a kid needs a meal or time to do their homework. If someone has special needs. They do all that. Plus, basketball (I love sports).
For me, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy is my family…literally! My grandma works here. When my mom was a kid, she was a Club member here, too. My uncle works at the same Club, and my aunt works at a different Club. We are a Boys & Girls Club family and I’ve been coming here since I was a baby.
Sports are my favorite thing about the Club; I’m always smiling when I’m playing sports. I’m an only child, but at my Club, I have so many kids to play with and I’m always practicing my skills on the basketball court. And lately, I’ve started volunteering as a coach.
We have an inclusion sports team for kids with disabilities to play basketball. There are about 20 kids playing on our inclusion team and some adults who were Club members once and keep coming back because the Club and this team are so special to them. I love seeing them have fun and enjoy basketball. They get to be themselves. Being their coach is one of my favorite things.
Being around people who have different abilities, I see how our Club makes them feel welcome and included. The most important thing I’ve learned at my Club is to be generous. Help everybody around you — no matter who they are. Because you never know what someone is going through.
That goes for our family, too. The Club also really helps my mom. She has lupus and has to go to the doctor a lot, and the Club always steps up to support our family. My Club makes sure I’m taken care of, that I’m safe, get some dinner and can get my homework done. It takes a lot of pressure off of my mom.
The staff is here for us and because of this, I’ve learned how important it is to be there for others.
Did you know? 81% of youth believe they can make a difference in their community.
When my family moved to Tracy, my mom found a job at the Boys & Girls Club, which means I became a Club member at age 10. I never guessed how much the Club would come to mean to our family.
To be honest with you, I think the Club taught me how to just be a human being. They made me who I am. It was my first job, my first everything. They just taught me all of the skills and things that I know.
The Club adapted with me as I grew up, and now I’m a mom sending my son there. It is truly a family. My mom still works here and she’s really passionate about the disability inclusion program she leads at the Club — the one Jay volunteers with. (She also volunteered us to do this story…thanks, Mom!)
Whenever we've run across hard times in our life, we know we can lean on everybody at the Club and have their support. We never have to ask. They are here for us.
This is especially important because I have lupus and I’m a single mom.
Even if I wasn’t a Club kid myself and didn’t have that personal connection, I can attest to the support the Club provides for parents. When I was ill or didn’t have the energy, the Club would make sure my son had the homework help he needed or that he was having fun playing basketball. In many ways, it was like the Club was my co-parent — I had someone to lean on when I needed it most. I knew Jay was safe and had something to eat and someone to ask how his day was.
When I have a lot of worries, thanks to the Club, Jay’s safety and wellbeing are not one of them.
People sometimes ask me about being resilient — that’s a question you get a lot when you have an autoimmune disease. But “resilience” applies to all of us in some way…these kids with disabilities having a blast on the court, parents juggling the needs of the day and all of us making it through this pandemic the last several years.
What I’ve learned about resilience is that sometimes you can do more than you think you can for people.
Sometimes it's just a conversation or a smile or a hug; even a high five or “good job!” can make all the difference. Having grown up in the Club, I’ve experienced this supportive community since I was a child. It’s amazing to see the Club’s goodness being passed on to the next generation of kids…including Jaylen.
Did you know? Boys & Girls Clubs of America have a lifelong impact on people. Compared to the general adult population, Club alumni are more satisfied with their lives including their emotional and physical wellbeing, financial health, sense of community and hope for what their future holds.
Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and problem-solvers. But too many kids aren’t sure where their next meal will come from, don’t have a safe place to go after school, and often don’t have the support they need to prepare for college or a career. Now through Dec. 31, 2022, Kohl’s will match your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, turning $1 into $2, to give more kids the meals, mentors and meaningful life experiences they need to become the leaders we’re counting on to create a better future.
We’re counting on them. They’re counting on us. After all, they’re the only next generation we’ve got.