Where your United Way donations go: a look inside the Boys and G - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Where your United Way donations go: a look inside the Boys and Girls Club

Eau Claire (WQOW) - It's a safe place for students to go when the last bell of the school day rings. We're talking about the Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley. Recently, WQOW News 18 has been taking a look at some specific area resources the United Way supports through your donations.

Elisa Perez, from Eau Claire, says, "It prepares us better for life after high school and life after we turn 18." As a high school senior, Perez is preparing for that next step.

She says, "I am from a single parent household so it makes things like going on college tours a little more difficult because it is transportation issues and financial issues."

But as a member of the Boys and Girls Club, she had the opportunity to tour several colleges, including UW-Madison.  "It was a really special tour for me because I fell in love with the campus and it helped me decide that I wanted to go there," explains Perez.  

The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley has been a resource in the community for many years.  "There are times when kids go home and they go home alone and they're the only ones home until a parent or a caregiver comes home from work so this also provides a nice opportunity for kids to be socialized and interact with other kids," explains Jan Porath, the Executive Director of United Way.  

Boys and Girls Club Executive Director, Sara Antonson, says, "Right now, 59% of our families make under $26,000 a year and 26% of our families make under $14,000. So as you can imagine, we are there for many families who may need us financially to have a safe structured place for their children to go. When I started at the Boys and Girls Club we averaged about 13 kids a day and now we're averaging about 80 kids a day in our programming."

Programming that include academic support. "We know that 86% of our members actually increased their academic grades by one letter grade because of the help they get here at the Boys and Girls Club," explains Antonson

As well as nutritional resources.  Antonson says, "One of the programs through United Way that we are funded for is our Nutrition Program."

"I know of kids that have come to Boys and Girls Club and have learned how to make table side guacamole at home. Healthy snacks, healthy choices, instilling that in them at an early age so that they can be life-long health eaters," says Porath.  

But the lessons don't end there. Perez says, "It teaches us how to be citizens and the importance of giving back."

The United Way is now focused on three key areas to help residents and families: health, income and education.  To learn more about that approach, click here
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