Deana Conde Garza, the new executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake, plans to lead the club into a year of growth and improvement for all their services. (Photo by Patrick Davies)

New year brings a new vision for Boys and Girls Club

Expansion and utilization of their programs and resources is this year’s goal

The Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake plans to come back stronger than ever in 2019.

Executive director Deana Conde Garza is really excited to bring her vision for the Boys and Girls Club to life in 2019. Garza said she found her first few months challenging as she had to adapt to a new town while gaining control of the organization.

The Boys and Girls Club saw a lot of changes and turbulent times last year, but Garza said she and her team are now ready to deliver changes the organization needs. Garza added that at their AGM in December all five of the current board members agreed to stay on for the next year.

“I’ve just been speaking to all the community partners and finding out what has been lacking in the community from the Boys and Girls Club in the past and I’m looking to fill that void,” Garza said.

For Garza, her primary goals for 2019 are to enhance the current programs and services in place while creating and expanding new ones. Their current after-school program, for example, is one such program Garza considers successful but believes could be far more successful.

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Garza is actively recruiting new kids into that program to expand it beyond 21 kids by summertime. Registration for the program’s summer activities open at the end of January and Garza proudly declared they already have all their summer activities planned out.

The program will also have four youth leaders in 2019 and one of their number will soon have a class four driver’s license, giving the program more mobility than its had in the past.

The Noopa Youth Group, for those aged 13 to 18, will also be seeing an expansion this summer. Rather than just being open Monday to Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., it will be open for the whole day on Spring Break and over the summer holidays.

They will also be open for kids aged 9 to 12, as Garza wishes to get youth involved in the Boys and Girls Club at a younger age. This new program will be available as a trial run for Spring Break this year on a registration/drop-in basis.

“We’re hoping to set up the office for birthday parties coming this spring,” Garza stated. “Sundays we’ll be open for people in the community to rent our location for birthday parties if they wish and we’ll probably supply a couple of youth to help out with that.”

They’re also looking at making Saturdays an open-ended event day where anything from crafts, movie-jam or an open-mic night could take place. The main thing Garza hopes to do is utilize their space to its fullest potential.

With 2019 being their 25th year of operation coming in May, Garza said she hopes to turn the Boys and Girls Club into a “revolving door” of events, activities and programs for the community to enjoy.

In addition, she hopes to bring the club back to its founding ideals, which were recreational based.

“I think it’s just getting more kids in the community involved in the club. What I’ve found since I’ve been here, is that lot of people don’t know about it, even if they’ve lived here their whole life,” Garza said. “That’s our goal — getting out there and trying to get people to know exactly what the Boys and Girls Club does.”

Read More: Boys and Girls Club ready to delight with Tim Burton-themed haunted house

While she does want to gravitate more towards activities for kids, she said they will continue to offer free clothes, a washer and dryer and dinner every night for those kids who need them. Under Garza, the Williams Lake Boys and Girls Club will remain a safe place for kids to go.

New projects meanwhile continue to “come down the pipeline” including an anime club and other exciting activities for kids to take part in.

“It’s a great place to be, we’d really like the extra help of everybody in the community to help the Boys and Girls Club to possibly what it used to be and get it really hopping. Our goal is to have kids in and out of the club all day long.”

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