One way to reduce the need for law enforcement in any given community is to strengthen the social safety net.
Or as Scott Thomson, the former police chief of Camden, New Jersey put it recently — “I would have traded 10 cops for another Boys & Girls Club.”
Thankfully, in Berkeley Springs, there is a strong Boys & Girls Club that is doing heroic double time during the pandemic.
The Boys & Girls Club is still providing free meals to any families in need.
That includes a five day supply of snack and dinner to anyone under 18 years of age and in school.
Pick up is Mondays from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the club headquarters at 187 Green Street in Berkeley Springs.
Stacie Rohn is the Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle.
Rohn says that the club in Morgan County was started in 1996.
“There were eight kids in that first summer,” Rohn told Russell Mokhiber on the Morgan County USA Podcast earlier this month. “It has now grown to hundreds of kids.”
What are the primary programs that you provide to the children of Morgan County?
“It’s not even a program, it’s a philosophy,” Rohn said. “When kids come to the club, they are able to find a mentor, to find that one person who they can’t wait to get there to tell about some great success that they have had in school that day. Or they want to find a person where they can say – you know, it was a really rough day. I’m so glad I’m here because you are here for me.”
“When you think about Boys & Girls Clubs, it’s not one particular program. It’s the people that make it all worthwhile. The kids that come do benefit from academic support, tutoring, help with social studies and science fair projects – things like that. But they also get a meal. When they come in right after school and they are famished, they are getting dinner and a snack.”
“Or when they are with us in the summertime, they are getting breakfast and lunch. Food insecurity is something that a lot of the children across our panhandle really suffer from. We have worked very diligently to make sure they are fed, that they are educated and that they have a plan for their future. What we hope for Boys & Girls Club members is that they are successful academically, they are well rounded in the activities they participate in, whether they be in Boys & Girls Clubs or in their school, and that they have a path for success in the future, whatever form that may take.”
Rohn says she is grateful for all of the community support to the club during a time “that is really stressful for many families.” (To support the Boys & Girls Club, click here.)
Rohn says that the club is planning to move from the old Bath High School building on South Green Street to a spot close to Reed’s pharmacy across from Widmyer Elementary School.
“Ken and Tally Reed had donated property above the pharmacy. Initially our goal was the build a new facility up there. Now we are looking to relocate in the area below Tri-State Community Health. It is still in progress, but that is still our hope and our plan. Hopefully we will be able to hang our Boys & Girls Club sign up there in the fall.”