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BGCE Director and Kiwanis Club reflect on shared mission

by Marvin Richards | February 11, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.
David Lee, Boys and Girls of El Dorado executive director, accepts a check for $1,000 from El Dorado Kiwanis Club President Jaren Books and Vice-President Victoria Young. (Contributed)

The El Dorado Kiwanis club presented the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado with a check for $1,000 on Wednesday.

“We presented the Boys and Girls Club with a check this morning to do with however they see fit,” Kiwanis President Jaren Books said during the club’s Wednesday meeting.

David Lee, executive director of the BGCE, spoke at the Kiwanis meeting

“Our mission is to enable and inspire all youth,” Lee said. “Especially those that need us most, to become responsible, productive and caring citizens. So if we do our job, El Dorado will be in good hands with our kiddos.”

Lee updated the Kiwanis members on some of the new Boys and Girls Club after-school program sites in El Dorado, which include the Hugh Goodwin Elementary and Washington Middle schools.

He also talked about the new Boys and Girls Club site in Smackover.

“We’re really excited about the Smackover-Norphlet location, it is going great,” Lee said. “I can’t wait to see what happens with it when COVID is not in the picture because right now we are limited in attendance and what we can do.”

Lee also shared that the organization has expanded its USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) food program with the Arkansas Food Bank to give out food boxes two times a month to families.

“Anything from canned meat to frozen lunch meats; it is a lot of good stuff,” Lee said. “The boxes are the size of a new box of copying paper, so there is quite a lot of food that we’re able to give out.”

David Lee said how proud he was of the Boys and Girls Club for being able to expand their food program in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He also talked about some of the challenges the organization has faced during the pandemic.

“March 16th (2020) will be a day that I will never forget,” Lee said. “We had to shut our doors to our kids. And we as a staff really struggled because it is in times like these when we are supposed to be there for our kids but we couldn’t do anything.”

Since they couldn’t help children at the BGCE at the start of the pandemic, Lee and his team decided to renovate the Boys and Girls Club site for when the children could have access again.

“We took out counters, we updated the colors, added a carpeted area, and opened it up,” Lee shared. “It looks modern now and we wanted it to look unrecognizable to the kids for whenever they would come back to us.”

Both the Kiwanis club and the Boys and Girls Club have a shared mission of having a positive impact on the lives of children. Books reflected on their shared mission and closed out Wednesday’s meeting with a thank you.

“We thank you guys for continuing to do what you all do and for being creative during these hard times and not just giving up,” Books said. “There is a lot of uncertainty and you’re adapting to help as many kids as you can and keeping them safe.”

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