Angelica Heras is passionate about her role as Site Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, Anthem Extension.
She hopes that one day the club will be filled with children studying, playing dodge ball, watching movies and doing crafts. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Anthem club, which opened in August 2020, has welcomed an average of 15 children. Heras hopes to have 40.
“It’s not that COVID-19 has hurt us,” Heras said. “People don’t know we’re here yet. It was difficult trying to get the children in, but we are hopeful. We are in contact with the community and networking.
“If we get to 40 when the restrictions are lifted that would be wonderful. There are so many children around.
Heras said the club are providing “incredible service”. It provides children with a safe place to complete their distance education as well as fun programming and activities, she added.
Youth development programs support a commitment to learning, positive values and healthy habits. Professionally trained staff provide caring relationships and connections with new friends that reinforce a sense of belonging, personal responsibility, civility and civic responsibility.
“We do our core programs every day and we implement them through a variety of subcategories of each program,” Heras said. “We do health and well-being. We do the arts. We do education. We focus on physical activity.
The first hour students have a power hour, during which they are encouraged to complete their homework. Afterward, children participate in programs like typing, STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math) and health and wellness. The club does not have enough staff for each room, so currently the children have a different schedule every hour.
Heras is educated in Boys & Girls Clubs. She moved to the Tucson Valley, where she worked in her Boys & Girls Clubs.
“It’s not very common for someone to open a whole new Boys and Girls Club site,” she said. “It was fun. It was tough and it’s definitely an experience. That’s what I was looking for.
Anthem was chosen as the site because there is a need for child care in the area, Heras said. A follow-up was found and the organization immediately seized it. Hours are from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“We used to do field trips, but we can’t because of COVID,” she said. “We decided to invite professionals to come talk to the children at a small summer camp.
“We will have a photographer, a videographer, a dancer, a professional cheerleader from a football team. We’re going to bring in a juggler, someone who teaches unicycle.
Community outreach is also important to Heras. She offered her location for school dances or other functions. Previously, she had organized a movie night with a big screen outside in the backyard and a nightly date night for parents, allowing children to attend the club from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“The parents went out on a date and left their children with us,” she said. “The children had a great time and the parents were happy to have time for them.”