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GYC ‘better’ with new status as Boys, Girls Club

Six months have passed since the Gerdon Youth Center officially became the Boys and Girls Club of Harrison County and, according to director Jennifer Best, it’s only gotten better.
The Dec. 31, 2006, turnover officially produced a name change, one that Best said ‘gets attention,’ but it also produced a level of quality and standards the entire staff of the GYC has been working toward meeting and sustaining.
‘For us,’ Best said, the partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) has ‘provided the opportunity to offer a lot more diversity.’
This diversity, she said, will show in everything from art programs to recreational activities.
The process of becoming an official BGCA was one that began before the Gerdon Youth Center opened its doors 10 years ago. Though Best isn’t sure why it didn’t happen before, she speculated that the local churches responsible wanted it to be a grassroots organization specified for this particular community.
‘It’s always something that’s been in the background,’ Best said, adding that she plans to keep the programs localized, acknowledging that what may work for bigger areas like Indianapolis or Chicago may not work in Corydon.
The change isn’t so much an overhaul but an opportunity to expand on what was already there, she said.
Part of that expansion came from an environment of constructive criticism. Representatives from the Boys and Girls Club of America visited the facility and made suggestions based on what they saw.
‘They came in, saw what we have, what we offer, and how to meet their standards,’ Best said.
And the attitude, according to Best, wasn’t that they didn’t do something well, but that the things they did well could always be done better.
‘It’s helpful to have people with 200 years experience,’ Best said.
The BGCA covers all areas, from human resources to fund-raising to training for directors and staff members.
‘They don’t want anyone to struggle,’ Best said.
The incorporation of the GYC to an official Boys and Girls Club was one that Best found easy because of the similar values the two share. Both organizations empower youth to speak up and speak for themselves, she said.
‘We both focus on highlighting what youth do,’ Best said.
For now, Best is looking ahead to the next six months. Besides producing activities that identify the GYC as a Boys and Girls Club, Best is eager to implement stronger teen programming. They have a lot of programming for the younger children, but Best said their programs that focus on teenagers aren’t very strong right now.
‘This is a huge county,’ Best said. ‘All the middle school and high school students need a place to be able to come to’ for activities and outreach.
She said they’ll be focusing on the Youth Advisory Council for planning the next phase of implementing programs targeted to teens that meet the standards of the BGCA.
‘This is a positive thing,’ Best said, ‘to be affiliated with an organization that has so many strengths and can offer so much. It’s a great move.’
The Gerdon Youth Center is located at 600 E. Chestnut St. For more information, call the GYC at 738-1696 or log on to its Web site at