Southern Illinois Boys and Women’ Golf equipment (BGCSI) obtain the Neighborly Award for Excellent Contribution

Southern Illinois Boys and Girls Clubs (BGCSI) receive the Neighborly Award for their outstanding contribution to empowering youth

Carbondale, IL – South Illinois Boys & Girls Clubs (BGCSI), formerly Carbondale Boys & Girls Club, is a comprehensive youth development agency serving youth in Carbondale and the surrounding communities. For the past 16 years, BGCSI has created a safe after school environment for teens to realize a new and better future. During that time, the club has served thousands of community youth. WSIU Public Broadcasting, a service of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is proud to announce Boys & Girls Clubs in Southern Illinois (BGCSI) as recipients of the “Neighborly” award in the “Nonprofit” category.

I’m happy not only for myself but also for our employees to know that people are recognizing the great work they are doing for families and our community. –Tina Carpenter, CEO of BGCSI.

“I’m not only happy for myself, but also for our employees that people are recognizing the great work they are doing for families and our community. Our youth development experts, site managers and program coordinators have worked extremely hard since Covid changed everything. They are the backbone of the organization. Our programs are only as good as our people, and they are amazing. It is an honor to be part of this team and to be part of our team. Our board of directors was also very supportive of the pandemic. They spin just like us and don’t have our usual face-to-face meetings, but lots of Zoom meetings. They are 100 percent behind us and our board is strong, which makes us a strong organization, ”said the winner Tina Carpenter, CEO of BGCSI.

There are three pillars that BGCSI emphasizes in building its youth development programs: academic and professional readiness, good character and citizenship, and a healthy lifestyle. Its mission is to inspire and empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as caring, productive and responsible citizens. COVID hasn’t stopped any of this.

“When we were informed in March 2020 that everything was shut down, we immediately worked with our administration and leadership teams to figure out how we could continue to serve families. We worked with the schools to make sure we could become a distribution point for breakfast and lunch and started contacting local restaurants to see how we could get dinner. Working with local restaurant partners, school districts, generous donors and foundation grants, the club was able to serve over 22,000 meals to the community for free between March and August. We have served not just our club members and Carbondale, but the entire community – Marion, Mistress, De Soto, and Southern Illinois, ”said Tina.

After the governor extended the mandatory home stay and canceled school for the remainder of the school year, BGCSI remained true to its mission of making youth health and safety a top priority. The club typically serves about 1500 members per year. Since COVID, the average daily attendance has increased from 355 children per day to around 150 children per day virtually and around 85 in person. Although doors were closed for personal programming through the end of June, staff made over 2,800 check-in calls to monitor the health and safety of their members.

In these unprecedented times, BGCSI has stepped out of the box to find new and creative ways to accomplish its mission. –Stephanie Wood, CEO of BGCSI.

“We need to use our space on Springer Street creatively to cater to all children who are distance learning. Between March and June we also provided virtual programming using Facebook Live, YouTube and Zoom. We made sure we got in touch with our children to tell stories and conduct science experiments. When they came to pick up their meals, we gave them books and activity kits so they could do these things at home.

Since last spring, social workers have been calling all of our children who cannot come to the club at least once a week. We are currently still providing virtual mentoring to young people, especially from the Rebound Alternative High School, and working together with the staff to support them remotely, ”said Tina.

“We worked closely with the health department. Our board of directors has a safety committee mandated by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) as part of our board structure. We worked between April and June to create a very warm and strong security plan so we could reopen for the summer. We have a 37-page document, parent and employee waivers, and a clear understanding of our security protocols to keep everyone safe, ”she added.

As an organization, BGCSI strives to fulfill its mission in all aspects of its youth development programs. It has a very diversified source of income. The programs are supported by donations from individuals, businesses, corporations, foundations, and grants.

“People running virtual fundraisers and galas are a whole new experience. I hear stories from other clubs about their struggles and how difficult it was, especially fundraising. I have weekly calls to the Illinois state CEOs for boys and girls clubs. BGCA was a tremendous support to us during this time. Every state does the same. The community supported us and continued to support us. People, new donors, and expired donors are happy and proud of what we do. I can’t thank the community enough for really staying with us to make sure we serve children, ”said Tina.

“In these unprecedented times, BGCSI immediately found new and creative ways to accomplish its mission. Over the past few months, the club has worked with local school districts to develop a plan to create a safe place where teenagers can receive guidance and support for distance learning, meals, and socio-emotional support. Many of the families looked after by BGCSI have to work, need assistance to complete remote learning, or may not have stable internet access. BGCSI will support these families by offering a full day of programs for teenagers aged 5 to 18, ”said the nominator Stephanie Wood, CEO of BGCSI.

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All neighbors across a region

Inspired by the life and legacy of Fred Rogers and in honor of his vision, One Region, the WSIU’s All Region Initiative encourages community members to nominate those who make positive contributions through kind action, compassion, and service. The winners are selected from nominations submitted by the public in five categories: individual, youth, educator, community group and company. The WSIU recognizes these winners on its television and radio stations, on its website and on its social media.

Via WSIU Public Broadcasting

WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees at Southern Illinois University and is an integral part of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts on the Carbondale campus. WSIU broadcasters reach more than five million people in six states and beyond through five digital public television channels, three public radio stations, a radio information service, a website, and education and contact services. You will work with other community organizations to promote positive change and support the academic and charitable missions of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Find out more and get the latest broadcaster news online at and on the WSIU’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Phone: 618.453.4343
Fax: 618.453.6186
Email: [email protected]

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