As worldwide COVID-19 social distancing requirements separate us, the Navarro County Boys & Girls Club provides adventure and connection for children and teens. Navarro County Boys & Girls Club Branch Director, Shayla Beck, arrived last year, at a time of transition and concerns about the Club’s continued operations.
Beck grew up in the Navarro County Boys & Girls Club and has been an employee since high school. After college, she swiftly moved up the ranks and was promoted to Branch Director of the Tyler Club at the age of 20.
Under Beck’s leadership, Club membership doubled since 2019.
“When I came, people knew about the YMCA, but they didn’t know we existed,” she said. She increased the community’s awareness of the Club was through social media and volunteerism. Beck serves on the Board of Directors for the Kiwanis Club and the CISD Education Foundation.
The Club operates from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, staff provide productive quality programming to inspire academic success, good character, and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.
“We try to teach the kids life skills, so when they graduate, they can use them,” Beck said.
Due to restrictions, the Club now operates at 50% capacity, which limits them to 50 kids.
“Today, we had 30 kids, which was our highest so far,” she said. “We are growing daily.”
To support children unable to come, the Club offers virtual programs through Zoom.
Currently, parents and volunteers are not permitted in the building. A staff member conducts a health screening and ensures that kids wear masks.
Beck says the day starts with connections with their friends about what happened at home, then breakfast. This week’s theme is “Cruising through the USA.” This past year, the Club sent three flag football teams and four basketball teams to the Club playoffs in Dallas.
In addition to Beck, the Club employs 11 outstanding community citizens, including Youth Development Specialist Samara Williams, Corsicana High School valedictorian, and Brianna Gomez, who first began tutoring students at the Club while in high school.
“Staff are adjusting great. When you have a passion for kids, it’s easier to adjust,” Beck said. “Kids come because of the staff, and that motivates the staff to be more creative. Some kids cry because they don’t want to go home. For many of Navarro County’s children, the Club provides their only contact with friends.”
The local club is under the umbrella of the Boys and Girls Club of Dallas. Beck was instrumental in facilitating the transition. “I knew it would be a challenge,” Beck said. “But I was ready. I wanted to bring this community back together. I have a lot of support here. Boys and Girls Club of Dallas has been a blessing in more ways than people know. The merge was a great decision. People feared Dallas would take over, but they didn’t. Dallas let me run this club and get the community involved. They let me use my passions.”
“I would like to see more coding and robotics here in Corsicana,” Beck said when asked about ways the community can support the Club. She invites volunteers to share their interests and expertise with the children through their virtual programs.
As a non-profit, the club thrives on community support. In addition to ongoing monetary donations, the Club needs masks, gloves, sanitizer, disinfectant spray, and bottles of water to keep the children hydrated and school supplies for the Club.
The Club is open to children as young as six. During the summer, fees are $70 per week for the first child, $60 for the second, and $50 for the third and beyond. During the school year, the cost is $20 per child. The additional $20 annual membership fee is waived for children with Amerigroup Children’s insurance. Participation is free for teenagers.
Beck said she and her team have a heart for the children.
“This is my passion. I love it. It’s easy for me to help these kids because I know what they are going through. I can tell when they are in fear. We try to take their minds off the pandemic and give them something fun and something else to focus on.”
Beck and her team are already hard at work planning next week’s Club adventure.
The Navarro County Boys and Girls Club is located in Corsicana at 1000 G. W. Jackson Avenue. For more information or to inquire about ways to help, call 903-872-9231 or email SBeck@BGCDallas.org.