Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester
For nearly 47 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD) has been a beacon for Boston’s inner-city neighborhood of Dorchester and the youth and families who call it “home.” While our community has faced immense challenges this past year, BGCD worked to continually pivot and meet the needs at every turn. No one could have predicted the magnitude of Covid-19 and the inequities it illuminated, yet through it all, our young people have inspired us to do more, be more and give more.
After closing our three clubhouses last spring in an effort to slow the virus’s spread, we re-opened in July in accordance with the Commonwealth’s and the CDC’s guidelines. We refused to be defined by the pandemic, but instead, chose to be inspired by the strength of our community. We stayed connected in every way possible during our closure: launching a virtual program series for kids, distributing bags of groceries, checking in weekly with our more vulnerable members, starting a virtual family support group and implementing an email response system for families to request assistance.
When we learned that Boston Public Schools would be largely virtual this year, we decided to restructure our programs to provide school-day Learning Hubs. Many of the vulnerable families that we serve needed a place to send their children during remote learning. Our clubhouses continue to offer a supervised, safe environment where staff provide on-site learning support and kids have the opportunity for social interaction. Additionally, our well-known enrichment programming continues to be an integral part of our service model. Programs such as music, art, college prep, swimming and athletics are offered throughout the day, after school and virtually. Participants receive breakfast, lunch and snacks and dinner is sent home with those who need it.
As we emerge from the pandemic, the needs of our members and their families remain significant. Dorchester was hit hard by Covid-19. Health disparities, lack of adequate health insurance, multigenerational households, and reliance on public transportation caused our neighborhood to have some of the highest infection rates in the city. Many families that we serve have suffered greatly. Hunger is a growing crisis in the community. We partner with local restaurants and grocery stores to set up Grab & Go meals and grocery boxes each week. We also provide essentials to vulnerable families with young children including diapers and baby formula. Our scope of services will continue to increase as families turn to us for support in new ways.
Last year’s Boston Marathon team and the funds they raised strengthened BGCD’s ability to respond in the very early days of the pandemic. This year’s team has the ability to make a HUGE impact during this pivotal time in our history. Please consider joining our team and helping us to raise critical funds for the youth and families of Dorchester. We welcome runners who are interested in joining our team for the virtual or in-person race.