PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

February 18, 2013

Red Cross' Boys and Girls Club aims to instill character, offer after school alternative

Julie Garcia
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Before heading to the newly equipped computer center at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club After-school Program Tuesday, Danyell Alexis recited the day’s devotional, which included the Lord’s Prayer and Sunday School hymns.

Five-year-old Derron Clavelle doesn’t sing along but dances in the large game room that has a Foosball table at one end and small snack tables organized to seat one to three students.

When Alexis, 9, finishes the last song, she and the other children line up and get their backpacks to work on the day’s homework.

Alexis, who is a 4th grader at Travis Elementary in Port Arthur, spent the next hour working out multiplication tables in the homework area with other students who were either doing the same or playing educational computer games.

The Port Arthur Salvation Army, 3145 25th Street, has hosted an after-school program since 1999 for children ages 5-12. Students are supervised Monday through Friday after school lets out until 6 p.m. or whenever the parent or guardian signs the child out.

There are currently less than 20 students in the program, but after renovation to part of the building a few years ago and the addition of eight new computers, they are equipped for at least 50.

“Enrollment is low because they’re doing after-school programs in other places,” said Elonda LeDay, who has been director of the program for nearly two years.

The buses pick up students from six PAISD elementary schools and bring them to the facility where they receive a light snack and drink before the day’s devotional and homework time.

During the summer months, the after-school program is transformed into a summer camp for kids who have aged out of daycare but have working parents and guardians. Camp participants are exposed to sports, arts and crafts, games and field trips.

Though the program is not currently open to teenagers, LeDay said that they are working to let the students who are turning 13 and are in middle school stay.

In the future, LeDay hopes they will be able to completely open services to teenagers and high school students.

“There are a lot of negatives things that happen outside,” she said. “We’re trying to a positive impact on the community rather than a negative one — we’re trying to help them build good character and have respect for the rules.”

Emily Green, longtime volunteer with the program, went to the school district to hand out flyers in the hopes that it will be approved and sent home with students.

The facility will be open during Port Arthur’s Spring Break (March 11-15) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is accepting applications for new students.

The fee is $40 a week and $20 for any additional children in the same family.

For more information, call (409) 983-2229.

Email: jgarcia@panews.com

Twitter: @julesbmt