Your Story. Our Morgan County.

Local Boys & Girls Club Teaching Kids Valuable Life Skills

Written by: Robin Reid, Storyteller/Content Manager

On any given weekday you’ll find around 75 kids, between the ages of five to 18, having fun in a safe environment where they’re also learning valuable skills to help them become healthy and productive adults in the future.

Welcome to the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) of Morgan County and meet its Executive Director, Chris Tann.

“One of the reasons working with young people is important to me is because I grew up surrounded by people who were interested, supportive, engaged, willing to lean in and tell me, ‘We don’t do that here,’ and kept me on track,” said Tann. “There were always adults in the neighborhood, along with my parents and family, who cared about kids and I want to give that back to everybody.”

Chris comes from a long family line of teachers, business owners, active church members, so it was the “right fit” for him after he graduated from Pennsylvania State University to start working for the YMCA organization. After 10 years of service at the YMCA and moving his family to Indiana from Ft. Collins (CO), he accepted a position with the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington.

It was the concentrated focus on youth programming as well as the mission statement that inspired Tann to accept this new job. The Boys & Girls Club mission statement is “To empower all youth, especially those who need us most, to grow to their full potential to be responsible, caring and productive citizens.”

A Morgan County Master Gardener teaches club members how worms fertilize gardens to make plants grow.

Chris worked for the BGC in Bloomington from 2008-2013 as manager for their main club on Lincoln Street. Prior to joining the BGC of Morgan County in 2016, Chris was Recreation and Activities Manager for French Lick Resort. BGC of Morgan County was established in 2006 and is located at 31 Indianapolis Road, Mooresville. According to Tann, the BGC partnership with Mt. Gilead Church is a blessing as both organizations are working together to provide quality youth programming.

In 2018, the club served more than 268 children.

The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) has supported the work and mission of this youth organization since 2013 when an Endowment, “Stephanie’s Fund for the Boys & Girls Club of Morgan County”, was established by Neal and Cindy McNalley.

Combining programs with mentoring allows staff and volunteers to teach club members valuable life skills, experience success in their school work, and how to become healthier and social individuals. “Kids at the club who choose to participate in the group activities tend to do better than kids who need one-on-one attention. We’re coaching them to be part of a team or small group to reinforce positive behaviors (i.e. being polite and helpful, having something kind to say) as well as learning how to work and socialize with others,” said Tann.

Chris says the local community is one of caring individuals as he sees adults, young and old, volunteer their time and talent to help at-risk youth. However, more volunteers are always needed in the areas of teaching and mentoring. “We need people who can commit one hour per week for at least seven weeks to either help with homework (reading, math) or have a hobby or interest they can teach to small groups,” he added.

According to Chris, the club’s “front line of service” is reaching single-parent families, working parents, and the ever-growing percentage of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren or other family members (nieces, nephews). Many times, these children don’t have opportunities to participate in other extra-curricular activities, struggle in school, and/or would be home alone after school.

“Many of our kids are not doing anything else. So, this is the place where we try to give them a diverse experience in a social setting that’s safe and guided,” Tann said.

Mt. Gilead’s Community Center gives boys and girls plenty of space to participate in group activities.

It’s the front-line service segment where Chris, staff, and volunteers try to identify the “hidden” populations of children who are affected at home by challenges such as abuse, addiction, poverty, lack of education, and more. “We must keep pushing the front-line service because the needs are greater in some way, even though we live in a great community. We need to make sure all kids know there’s a place they can go to after school – a place for physical activities, opportunities to deepen friendships, as well as having adults (young and old) who are in their corner to help them navigate issues that make people feel more alienated now than when we were growing up,” he added.

A common social issue that tends to isolate, put pressure on children, and create sedentary lifestyles is technology, whether it’s a phone, laptop, TV, etc. Chris said “screen time” at the club is very limited as they’ve set up the Internet to time out, so kids can only be “online” for a certain period and then can no longer access it.

Tann and his team are also focused on community outreach activities as they work to connect with more and more individuals, families, service groups and businesses throughout the county. The 2018 Holiday Campaign, thanks to generous contributions, totaled $10,690 and earned a 100% match for these gifts. Other outreach activities have included: Citizens Bank Employee Gift – Candy for a Cause; “Home for the Holidaze” Acoustic Concert; Holiday Cookie Deliveries; Santa Claus visits; Thanksgiving Family Dinner; Open Houses; Eat, Thank and Love Valentine’s Day Luncheon; and more.

Thanks to generous donations a club membership costs only $20 per year and children can attend the club after school and during school breaks, Monday through Friday.

United Way of Central Indiana volunteers help these clubs members improve their reading skills during a Summer ReadUp program.

Today, you can help another child enjoy a full year of Club benefits by sponsoring their membership fee through CFMC. Every dollar counts and impacts our future generations. Contact CFMC at info@cfmconline.org to sponsor a child or call (765) 813-0003.

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