“It’s the best kept secret in Ypsilanti,” Frank Rigger said in regards to the Huron Valley Boys & Girls Club.
Rigger, who has been working with numerous Boys & Girls Clubs for the past 40 years, is now the club director at the 111 S. Wallace Blvd. location, about a half mile away from Eastern Michigan University.
The Boys & Girls Club is host to roughly 20-40 children, averaging between the ages of 8-12, every day after school. Working with Ypsilanti Public Schools has enabled safe bussing to the club, which offers structure and fun for elementary students.
Children are welcome to come as many times each week they want to play games, do crafts and get help on homework, for $50 per year.
In order to provide opportunities for the children at a reasonable cost, the Boys & Girls Club asks for collaboration with the EMU community and its resources.
Currently, the Huron Valley Boys & Girls Club works with the University of Michigan, which recently hosted a dance marathon for the club on Friday. But while hosting bigger programs to keep the kids active is nice, the priority right now is helping the kids with their education on a daily basis.
For this reason, Keith McShan, a volunteer from EMU, is asking the students from one of the nation’s best teaching schools for help.
McShan, specifically, has reorganized the tutoring area at the club.
“I remember when I was that age I didn’t want to do homework either,” McShan said.
To make doing homework less antagonizing, McShan developed a point program. As a reward for completing different tasks, such as a homework assignment or doing extra practice work, the boys and girls can earn points. Each week and each month, the student with the highest number of points wins a prize. In addition, to help build team skills, if the kids have received 10,000 points as a group, they win a pizza party.
McShan needs help to create an environment where each child has the opportunity for personal help on homework and tutoring. Math tutors are especially needed.
“The math is different from when I was a kid,” Rigger said.
While Rigger is extremely grateful for the staff he currently has, he acknowledges that additional people would be helpful. As each of the children are at a different level in his/her education, the club needs more tutors to increase the range of assistance available.
Gayle Hane, the Boys & Girls Club program coordinator, encourages EMU students who think they might be interested in teaching to volunteer.
“It lets you know that you can handle kids. It shows the kids the importance of education by having a young person who has taken the next step in their education,” Hane said.
Those who aren’t as capable of being a tutor are asked to contribute in any way they can. For instance, McShan is looking for small prizes to offer the kids who gain the most points. Also, McShan has started providing all the kids who come to the homework area with a granola bar as a healthy snack. For this reason, McShan is looking for donations of boxes of granola bars for the club.
Part of the charm of the Huron Valley Boys & Girls Club is their dedication to kids.
“We do this for the kids,” Hane said. “It’s all about them.”
This motto is so ingrained in the minds of the staff that they work to encourage everyone and anyone to help out in anyway they can.
“Everyone should have a youth in their life who they can work with,” McShan said. “Someone to help them with homework and engage them more.”
For more information on ways you can volunteer, contact Frank Rigger at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 734-481-0266.