Boys & Girls Club updates progress

Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Treasure Valley is gaining steam in its effort to open a new club in Weiser, according to Ontario CEO Dana Castellani.

 Castellani provided an update on the organization’s progress to councilmembers during a Dec. 12 regular city council meeting in Weiser.  
 She first approached city leaders during a special meeting held at the Vendome on Sept. 23. The meeting was intended to spark a dialogue about a potential Boys & Girls Club in Weiser and whether it would be a good fit for the community.
 At ground level, clubs, sometimes referred to as chapters, offer kids a place to go after school where they can take part in various activities.  
 The clubs also offer members a number of programs during the summer months. Both after-school and summer programs include sports and recreation, education, arts, health and wellness, workforce readiness, character and leadership, and digital learning platforms. 
 Boys & Girls Clubs of America also offers USDA meal programs. 
 Castellani said every community can choose the programs that fit its needs.
 “It’s been a while since we’ve spoken as a group, but things have been happening,” she told councilmembers on Dec. 12.
 Castellani oversees the Ontario and Payette clubs, founded in 2009 and 2018, respectively. Serene Hooper, a Weiser High School graduate, is the director of the Ontario club, which serves about 135 kids daily. 
 Rachel Lopez, also a WHS graduate, directs the Payette club, with about 90 kids served on any given day.
 The clubs are intended to work, “with the youth of our community to ensure they graduate high school with a plan for college or a career, contribute to their community, and have a healthy life.” 
 She provided the following list of accomplishments enroute to opening a Weiser club:
 1. We continue to move forward with the Institute building. I have been able to visit with prior owners and tenants, mostly to get more of the history (and remodel history too). 
 2. Chief Atwood visited both Clubs in Ontario and Payette and gave great feedback for our safety committee. He also got a tour of the Institute and is aware of the enormity of the project. 
 3. Shelby Leslie has transitioned from serving as our Program Director to our Weiser Director. She has worked at both Clubhouses, worked in almost every position, and has a lot of knowledge about the numerous programs available. 
 4. Shelby and Serene attended the Weiser Chamber meeting last month - hopefully we can be involved more in this area. They also handed out brochures about bringing a Club to Weiser at last week’s 4th and 5th grade Christmas concerts. 
 5. Shelby and I attended last Monday’s City Council meeting. I spoke briefly to the City Council (and later to Chief Smith) about the Club’s goal to partner with the existing youth programs with a goal of working together this summer on field trip opportunities.
 6. We are close to having a separate savings account set up at Columbia Bank for Weiser-only donations.
 7. We have a STEM trailer in Payette that is meant to be taken off-site, and it could be fun to bring it to Weiser Schools in January.
 “We hope that bringing a Boys & Girls Club to Weiser will add another level of support to the kids in the community,” Castellani said in a statement last week. “We can support families by bridging the gap during out-of-school time, providing an additional safe place to have fun, and offering new impactful programs. With Weiser being a youth-oriented community, we look forward to partnering with current youth services to offer expanded opportunities in the upcoming year.”
 For more information, contact Dana Castellani at (541) 889-7979.

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Weiser, ID 83672
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