The Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, so it’s only right the group recently was recognized for its longstanding community impact.
In February, the club was honored as Organization of the Year, the top honor given by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce at the chamber’s annual ball.
Club fan Randy Brooks and Stan Smith nominated the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island for the award, helping the group cinch the honor.
“We knew we had a story to tell, but we didn’t know how to pull all the pieces together, and that’s where Randy came in,” said club director Kim Likins.
Brooks, who grew up attending a Boys & Girls Club in Baltimore, is a retired market research professional. He said looking at the Hilton Head club’s data made him it easy to see just how much of an impact the club has on the island.
“The club serves children, but I uncovered the fact that their kids’ parents are out here working for us,” he said. “When you know the parents of the children on the island are providing services to all of us, it makes the club’s impact even bigger than you’d guess.”
About 600 adults whose children are members of the club work in service-industry jobs on the island, accounting for nearly 10% of the workforce in these positions, according to data from the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island.
Likins said 64% of Boys & Girls Club members are part of families that fall below the national federal poverty guidelines. In fact, 45% of members’ families are at the lowest level — making $25,000 or less per year — and roughly 80% of the club’s members receive need-based scholarships to participate. The Boys & Girls Club expects to serve more than 55,000 meals to those children this year.
“We need to be able to serve more children and need to ensure they have access to academic programs and enrichment opportunities that they would otherwise never have,” Likins said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island offers an after-school program five days a week that includes academic support and wellness activities — soccer, basketball, and gardening — as well as exposure to the arts by way of violin lessons, painting and drama workshops. Summer programs include job-readiness classes and services to help members prepare for post-secondary education and careers.
The First Tee of the Lowcountry also partners with the Boys & Girls Club to introduce children to golf, teaching them the basics of the sport but also emphasizing The First Tee’s core principles: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
Brooks said he admires the work done at the Boys & Girls Club.
“It is an incredibly worthwhile charity,” he said. “You wouldn't find any more worthwhile people on the island.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head will host its Gala 2020 from 6-10 p.m. March 21 at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.
For information, www.visit.bgchiltonhead.org/events.