SHINE (Summer Help in Neighborhood Environments) is a Summer of Service initiative sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Summer of Service is a national coalition of major youth serving organizations that are committed to engaging youth during the summer months. The goal is that the youth will come together to recognize issues, develop projects, and provide lasting benefits to the communities in which they live through volunteering their time and efforts. It is believed that introducing youth to this form of community service and volunteering leads to a higher percentage of high school graduates. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America partnered with CNCS to provide a summer full of service for our members. Toni Whitehead, Al Davies Program Director, applied and was awarded a $5,000 grant to run this program over the past few months, and it was a complete and total success.
The Al Davies Branch Torch and Keystone Club members joined together this past summer and utilized the SHINE grant to commit to four community service projects. The Torch and Keystone Clubs are made up of youth ages 11-18 who unite, elect their own officers, and work together on local community service projects. Through this group members sharpen leadership skills and learn how to help others who may be less fortunate. Their first project was called Reading Buddies and they were able to get 600 books donated from First Book and with those books created a reading program for 6-10 year olds. The SHINE members sat with the young readers that struggled and assisted them with the sounding out and pronunciation of words. Each Club member who participated in this program was given the book they completed.
The second community service effort that the Club members were involved in was The Fisher House Beautification project. The Fisher House is located on the Ft. Lewis military base and is a program that helps military families in their time of need. With our men and women in uniform stationed all over the country it can be difficult on their families when terrible events such as personal injuries, disease, or unexpected illnesses occur. This is where the Fisher House program steps in, they provide a safe and comfortable place for families to reunite while a loved one is recovering. The SHINE members spent a day at the Fisher House sprucing up the house by weeding, planting flowers, and mowing the lawn. Their intent was to lift the spirits of the injured soldiers and their families while conveying the message that they are appreciative to them for protecting their freedom.
Their third project was a Lunch Giveaway to the homeless or needy in the downtown Tacoma area. The Torch and Keystone members purchased lunch supplies such as meat, cheese, cookies, bottled water, and apples to create sack lunches. Then they went out into the community to spread their efforts for an afternoon full of giving back to those less fortunate. The fourth and final project of the summer was with World Vision’s Brick City to assist with their Annual Back to School Event. SHINE members were able to assist in preparing free meals, guide families through the event, and help children while playing in the big inflatable bouncy toys.
As the members reflected at the conclusion of these projects they were all glad that they were able to say that they appreciate life and what it has to offer them. Toni Whitehead, Al Davies Program Director said, “They learned that doing for others somehow causes you to look less at yourself and concentrate more on how you can be a better person and I believe that this community service project has changed these kids for a lifetime. It was an honor at the end of the summer to take these kids on a trip to Ocean Shores and also present 25 of those hard working members with a $100 Simon gift card. I am so proud of our Club members!”