By Sue Bloom, Chief Executive Officer, Boys and Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties
Boys & Girls Clubs are all about hope – to even the playing field for the amazing, wonderful youth we serve. Clubs provide youth a safe place to belong where they can broaden their vision of what is possible and have every opportunity for success, regardless of their circumstances.
But COVID has brought tremendous challenges to us all; as individuals, families, businesses and non-profit organizations. When COVID hit and schools closed, Clubs across the country leaned in to ensure we continue to do all we can to support and mentor the youth we serve daily.
In our current environment, we serve youth in small, stable groups to support them in their comprehensive distance learning during school hours. That means we have youth from elementary to high school on their computers connecting remotely in our Clubs — all at the same time. The challenges our youth experience when navigating online learning is aggravated by internet issues and slower speeds. This puts a tremendous strain on our internet, and most importantly on our youth while they are trying to learn in this very challenging time.
When Rebecca Brown, Director of Community Impact for Comcast Oregon/SW Washington, reached out to me to share the opportunity to become Comcast’s first Lift Zone site in Oregon, we were in! With academic success as a key priority of Boys & Girls Clubs, these Lift Zones are providing a critical service to the youth we are serving in our Clubs, the youth who need us most, in support of their virtual learning.
Lift Zones effectively alleviate our internet issues by providing exceptional up and down speeds at our Clubs. We can’t wait to see how this improves our kids’ virtual distance learning experience that Club staff support every day.
Comcast has been an amazing partner with our local Club for over 10 years. We have worked alongside them during “Comcast Cares Days”, they have provided technology and software platforms like My.Futures that are highly engaging for our youth, as well as support healthy lifestyles through our bike safety programs.
We are grateful to Comcast for providing our organization the opportunity to better serve our youth during these challenging times.