Children are one of our community’s greatest assets. But each day, many children go home alone, with no one to make them a snack or help them with their homework. For some of these children, a safe haven is the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County.

Several years ago that safe haven was threatened when the club lost funding by the United Way. A reorganization of the club, its staff and board has the club back in the right direction and the support of the community is starting to flow.

Last year, to help encourage people to support the club, a group of civic-minded individuals got together and planned the community’s first Dogwood Festival Garden Party. The event was a hit, and this year it is back and better than ever.

The Garden Party will take place on Friday, April 29 from 3-5 p.m. in Cross Creek Park on Green St.

“It’s a great reason to get off work a little early and kick-off the Dogwood Festival in style,” said Jenny Beaver, one of the organizers of the event. 04-27-11-gardent-party.jpg

Beaver said that in true garden party style, attendees are encouraged to break out their sundresses and hats and men can pull out their seer sucker suits for the event.

The event will feature the band Groovetown, heavy hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine.

Tickets to the event are $50 per person and can be purchased online athttp://gardenparty.eventsbot.com. While you are out having fun, remember that all proceeds benefi t the club, which in turn, benefi ts our community.

The Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County, which was established in 1968, consists of four units: the Cumberland Road Unit, 3475 Cumberland Rd., the Rochester Unit, 1018 Rochester Dr., the J.S. Spivey Unit, 500 Fisher Rd., and the Spring Lake Unit, 245 Ruth Street.

The club’s mission is to inspire all youth, especially those who need us the most to become productive, responsible and caring citizens.

The organization empowers youth with a Youth Development Strategy which gives them a sense of belonging; sense of usefulness; sense of infl uence; and sense of competence.

Programs offered by the club can be broken down into five core areas: education and career development, health and life skills, character and leadership development, sports, fitness and recreation and the arts.

Locally, the club offers several national programs including:

SMART Moves - To help young people resist the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and postpone sexual activity

SMART Girls - To help girls develop and adopt a healthy attitude and lifestyle, as well as acquire and maintain a positive self-concept, sound decisionmaking skills and mentor relationships

Street SMART - Enables participants to counteract the negative lure of gangs, develop effective confl ict resolution and leadership skills and become “positive peer helpers,” or role models, for other adolescents.

Passport to Manhood - To teach and promote responsibility, reinforce positive behavior and develop character in adolescent males.

Power Hour - To help young people develop academic, behavioral and social skills through homework completion.

Project Learn - To reinforce the knowledge and skills youth learn in school by integrating fun, educational activities throughout Club programs.

Triple Play - To improve Club members’ knowledge of healthy habits, good nutrition and physical fi tness; increase the numbers of hours per day they participate in physical activities; and strengthen their ability to interact positively with others and engage in healthy relationships.

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