New club seeking donations, sponsors and volunteers
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (August 21, 2023) — As schools across Pulaski County kick off the new academic year, parents and caregivers will soon receive information about how to participate in the City of Somerset’s newest after-school initiative.
The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset (BGCS) will open this fall at Rocky Hollow Recreation Center in downtown Somerset, initially accepting students ages 12 to 18 at Somerset and Science Hill independent schools. Because of space restrictions, the club will only be open to these two districts during its first year, but it will eventually serve every school in Pulaski County.
Born from a dream to create a safe and inclusive out-of-school space for Somerset’s youth, BGCS will operate under the umbrella of the Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow Barren County during its inaugural year as team members work to make the club self-sustaining.
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck first learned of the Barren County organization earlier this year while traveling the state during his campaign for governor. Upon being introduced to the club’s board chair, Patrick Gaunce, and hearing about Barren County’s efforts, Keck knew immediately he wanted to learn more about how to bring this program to Somerset.
“I was blown away by the great work the folks in Barren County are doing to provide meaningful interaction and learning experiences to students after school,” Keck said. “I’ve long hoped to find the right opportunity for something like this in Somerset, a place where our children can go after school to do their homework, learn essential life skills and healthy behaviors, and be connected to more people in our community outside of school who want to help them develop and thrive. The Barren County team jumped at the chance to partner with us and have helped us make this dream a reality.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is a nationwide organization that began in 1860 with three women in Hartford, Connecticut. They organized the first Club “believing that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternate.” With character development as the cornerstone of the experience, the club focused on capturing boys’ interests, improving their behavior, and increasing their personal expectations and goals. Today, Boys & Girls Clubs serve around 3.6 million young people in a typical year, 1.7 million through membership and 1.9 million through community outreach in nearly 5,000 facilities. While BGCA offers a baseline curriculum, programs within each individual club are tailored to the local community and customized for each age group.
Kathy Townsend, a 10-year employee of the City of Somerset, will serve as the BGCS area director. Townsend is also the city’s Healthy Somerset director, has served on the city’s events team and on the awards committee for the Kentucky Recreation and Park Society, Markey Cancer Center Community Advisory board, Pulaski County Emergency Food and Shelter Program board, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Southern Kentucky board. She’s joined by two team members — Isabella Martin, safety director, and Brenda Pryor, programming director — who will work with Townsend to provide a curriculum that prepares students for academic success, teaches good character and leadership, and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Students will participate in activities ranging from the arts, sports and recreation, education, health and wellness, workforce readiness, and character and leadership development, while also taking field trips to learn about different businesses and attractions in Pulaski County.
“I am so excited to begin welcoming students at Rocky Hollow for our first year of the Boys & Girls Club,” Townsend said. “As a mom and a grandmother, I understand how important it is to have a safe place for children to go after school — a place where they are not only cared for by people in the community who want the best for them, but a place where they will learn the skills they need to be successful in life. We have such a need for this in Pulaski County, as our youth represent 22 percent of our county’s population. I’m grateful to the Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow Barren County for the guidance and support they’ve given our team and can’t wait to get started making this program everything I know it can be.”
The BGCS team has been busy during the summer months presenting to schools and community organizations and is currently seeking sponsors and donations to fuel the program. Those interested in donating can contribute financially, in-kind or through volunteer service, and those interested in sponsoring can do so as a one-time sponsorship or annual gift. For more information about BGCS’s wish-list of items, to pledge a donation or sponsorship, or to sign up as a volunteer, visit bgcsomerset.org.
And for parents and caregivers of students at Meece Middle School, Somerset High School and students in sixth through eighth grades at Science Hill Independent who would like to sign their child up to participate this fall, an application is now live on the BGCS website. Just visit bgcsomerset.org and click on Club Life, New Members in the menu. There is a $25 registration fee for the school year.
Townsend emphasized that while club participation is limited by age and school district in its inaugural year, BGCS hopes to eventually serve students of all ages in all school districts in Pulaski County.
“The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset does not just serve students from particular groups or economic backgrounds,” Townsend said. “Any and all students who seek greater opportunities and relationships are welcome and we can’t wait to begin greeting them this fall.”
Follow BGCS on social media for updates on opening day @boysgirlsclubofsomerset on Facebook and Instagram. For applications to enroll a student, or forms to volunteer or donate, visit bgcsomerset.org.