BY JAMES HARPER
Children participating in the Palmetto Park Boys and Girls Club of Volusia/Flagler County will no longer have to do extracurricular activities amongst the clotheslines at their current location on Whitney Street in Palmetto Park.
Daytona Beach’s elected officials, during last week’s city commission meeting, approved a lease agreement with the Boys & Girls Club for a five-year term at an annual rate of $12,600 at the John H. Dickerson Center.
Beginning June 10, the Boys & Girls Club will have moved its entire operation from the Whitney Street location to the Dickerson Center located at 308 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Using vacant space
“This agreement would allow the Boys and Girls Club exclusive use of the south end of the Dickerson Center, which is now currently vacant and unused,” according to a memo sent from Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson to City Manager Jim Chisholm.
“The Boys & Girls Club agrees to establish, operate, manage and staff a first-rate facility providing youth programs and services to the Daytona Beach community, including afterschool, summer and evening programs a minimum of five days a week, four hours per day, 11 months a year,” Williamson wrote.
Williamson said the “lease and overall collaborative agreement will not adversely affect the current leisure services programming or rentals being held at the remaining portion of this vast facility.
“This partnership allows us to better serve the community by expanding access to programming and pool resources,” Williamson concluded.
According to the Boys & Girls Clubs website, they “provide a safe place (for children 6 – 18 years of age) to learn and grow – all while having fun.”
“It is the place where great futures are started each and every day. In every community, boys and girls are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. An increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision. Young people need to know that someone cares about them,” according to the website.
Phillip Martin, program director for the Palmetto Park Boys & Girls Club, told the Daytona Times that the move to the Dickerson Center will enable them to increase the number of students who can participate in their programs.
“It will be a safer place,” he added noting they currently have 58 students participating in their after school program, many of whom are on scholarship.
Martin said normally students have to pay a $25 registration fee, but because of a grant they receive, most of their participants pay nothing.
Helping our kids
Martin, who has been with the Boys & Girls Club since 2011, said they help keep students off the street, preventing them from making bad choices.
“We have our own set of tutors, lots of extracurricular activities and healthy living challenges helping them stay fit. We have people who come in from the community who give out free music lessons and barbers who give free hair cuts,” Martin said, adding they also provide the kids with snacks.
Martin said kids will now be able to play basketball indoors. Students will also be exposed to other sports such as tennis and racquetball, since such courts exist at the Dickerson Center.
Martin said they are open year-round from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week. For more information contact them at 386-258-7910.