Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii inspires the young people of Hawai’i to become responsible citizens.

In a perfect world, children everywhere would be treated much differently. They would be born into wholesome, united families, receive abundant attention from loving parents and as a result, develop into mature, confident adults. Sadly, such is not the case for the many youths today living in Hawai’i.

Statistics reveal that nationally, 15.1 million children are left unsupervised on a regular basis. In Hawai’i alone, 17 percent of youths live in poverty battling life-threatening situations such as homelessness, substance abuse and teen pregnancies.

For more than 150 years, the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) has served millions of young adults in need around the globe by providing them with the tools and experience necessary to become valuable assets to their communities. As the largest youth services agency in the world, the BGCA helps approximately four million youths a year. In 1976, the organization established a Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii (BGCH) to specifically cater to youths living on the Hawaiian Islands.

“Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens,” says Tim Mott, BGCH president and CEO. “In Hawai’i, essentially what that means is we become an extension of their family.”

Currently, the BGCH services approximately 15,000 youths per year across the state. As a facility-based organization, the non-profit has over 10 centers, or “clubhouses” as they are called across varying towns including Wai’anae, ‘Ewa Beach, Kailua and McCully. Open daily for after-school hours, and all day on weekends, clubhouses offer an ideal gathering place for young ones to associate.

At every BGCH, students start each day’s session with a nourishing snack. Then comes Power Hour, a time dedicated to completing homework and receiving tutoring. Next, students break out into different programs depending on their individual interests. “We have everything from sports to computers to cooking classes,” Mott says. “Students get the chance to interact with mature, caring staff members who strive to connect with and inspire the students.”

By embracing Hawai’i’s youth with open arms, the BCGH aims to provide students with opportunities they may not readily be exposed to. “For us, it’s really about leveling the playing field,” Mott says. “We want to serve that child who has never had access to a computer, enjoyed a good meal or had a role model figure to confide in.”

Although it currently costs an average of $750 to support each child annually at the BGCH, the non-profit offers its services for as little as a dollar per year or less. Funding is understandably a significant part of the organization’s continued success. “It’s a community effort for sure,” Mott says, referring to the nonprofit’s 4,200 donors who contribute monetarily each year. “Without their help, we would not be able to do what we do.”

Equipped with approximately 65 full-time employees, as well as community board members, the BGCH affirms finding suitable staff as one of its most important responsibilities. “Behind any good Boys and Girls Club is a phenomenal group of leaders,” Mott says. “We look for people who aspire to be part of something bigger, someone who wants to put into life more than he takes out.”

With the support of like-minded staff and over 35 corporate board members, advocacy for the BGCH is at an all-time high.

“Not a month goes by that we don’t get approached by a local legislator wanting to start a Boys and Girls Club in his or her town, but we have to be somewhat selective, because there are only so many resources to go around,” Mott says. “It truly does take a village to take care of one child.”

To help sustain and grow its numerous facilities and programs, the BGCH allocates much time to planning special events around the island to raise awareness and support for the organization. On August 16, the non-profit will be holding its annual Walk in the Country event at the Lanikuhonua property located in Ko

Olina. The all-day casual affair will feature a roster of different activities including food, wine tastings and an auction. Those interested in attending may RSVP on the BGCH website or call the main office.

At its core, the BGCH is more a jumping-off point than a refuge for youths. “Anyone who walks through our doors has the potential to reach greatness,” Mott says. “Our vision has always been ‘great futures start here,’ so this is just the start to what we hope will lead to a long, happy and healthy life.”

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii, visit www.bgch.com or call your local clubhouse to schedule a tour.