Victoria Boys & Girls Club turns 45
June 7, 2013 at 1:07 a.m.
Updated June 8, 2013 at 1:08 a.m.
For 45 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Victoria has provided a safe haven for children to play, learn and grow.
The club's official membership into the Boys Clubs of America came June 10, 1968.
The club was first set up on Pine Street and moved to its current location on Hopkins Street in 1984.
The club plans to officially celebrate its anniversary with a ceremony on Flag Day, June 14.
Marc Hinojosa took over as executive director in July.
"I came at a good time," he said. "We had just gotten through with the last phase of a city block grant. Work had been completed on the roof, the air conditioning, and the parking lot (was) repaved."
Hinojosa and the staff have continued to spruce up the physical location.
"We're not just putting on extra coats of paint; we're cleaning it up and making it a place appealing to come," he said.
"I want to get people in the doors."
Since his arrival, the club has also received a grant from an area foundation for an additional bus to transport children on field trips or to pick them up and take them home from the club if needed.
"We want parents to know that we are taking them to a safe and positive place," Hinojosa said.
The club has about 325 registered members ages 6 to 13.
"Boys & Girls Club is not just for disadvantaged children; it's for everyone," Hinojosa said. "Yes, we try to make it affordable, but it's a place for all children."
The club provides an after-school program, and its summer day camp kicks off Monday.
Programs during the school year include the Power Hour for homework time, but the children also work on life skills and character building programs.
"We try to give them some structure," Hinojosa said.
The summer day camp will include games and activities, arts and crafts and field trips.
Breakfast and lunch will also be served during the camp.
Hinojosa said the programs offered haven't changed much since he came on board, but he has made some other changes.
"We partnered with Victoria College and the University of Houston-Victoria and hired college students as part-time counselors," he said.
"They are role models for the younger kids," he said. "They are working and going to college."
Hinojosa requires the counselors to also put in volunteer hours in the community.
"We want to give back to the community that gives so much to us," he said. "And this is one way of doing it."
LeTrice Youngblood, program director, said she has seen some positive changes since Hinojosa took over as executive director.
"There's been a lot more input from the parents," she said. "We've been making ourselves more available to the community."
Hinojosa said his commitment to the club is deep-rooted.
"I am from here. My family is here," he said. "I used to come to this club as a kid."
Youngblood, who has worked for the club for 10 years, also keeps returning.
"I have a degree in photography, but I find myself coming back to be with the kids. It's all about the kids."