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An Olive Branch

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The Oviedo community is coming together to help the Boys & Girls Clubs get its local programs up and running even before the new Oviedo branch is open

Excitement is building for the new Boys & Girls Clubs branch in Oviedo. But thanks to a fruitful partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, the City of Oviedo, and the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, local kids in need don’t have to wait until the official branch is finished and ready. 

In fact, it’s a vacant commercial building owned by the church on Broadway Avenue in downtown Oviedo that will eventually become the new 2,400-square-foot Boys & Girls Clubs branch (11,000 square feet, if you count the outdoor space). For now, though, the church itself is hosting as many local kids as it can to try some of the Boys & Girls Clubs programs on for size.
The pilot program is just a preview of what many more children will be able to experience in the coming months.

It’s Not What You Know...
It was a chance meeting between two dedicated community leaders that got the Oviedo initiative started.

Last summer, Jeff Chudnow, current Oviedo City Councilman and former Oviedo Chief of Police, bumped into Alicia Hodge, the senior development officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. Jeff told Alicia about his desire to bring a B&G branch to Oviedo, and the two got to work.

“I had been thinking of a Boys & Girls Clubs branch but could never get any traction on it,” Jeff says. “There was resistance that we didn’t need one here in Oviedo. Not true. Kids given the opportunity to succeed are our employees down the road.”
Fast-forward to January of this year, and 20-25 kids at a time are enjoying enrichment activities, tutoring, and leadership training at the church while the commercial space is being renovated. It will eventually be leased to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida at no cost.

Once the branch is open, organizers hope about 60 kids can take advantage of it at a time. The goal is to provide a ratio of one counselor for every 20 kids.

An Invaluable Resource for 160 Years
Since 1860, Boys & Girls Clubs have been enabling young people to reach their full potential in life. The branches offer mentoring, character-building activities, and tutoring for kids age 6-18.

“It’s available anytime children are not in school,” says Alicia. “Parents need somewhere for their kids to go.”

A major capital campaign to fund the renovation of the Oviedo branch is well underway, although the initiative hit a roadblock when a major fundraiser in March had to be cancelled. The campaign hopes to eventually raise in excess of $700,000 to launch and sustain the new facility, which would include $200,000 for renovations, $50,000 for interior amenities and equipment, and $150,000 a year to operate the center. The latter amount, which pays for salaries and programs, was tripled for the capital campaign to ensure the branch would have a solid financial footing.

“We wanted to start with some continuity,” Alicia says.

Much of the renovation work thus far appears to be coming under budget or is being provided pro bono by subcontractors wanting to help with the cause. For example, the branch budgeted $20,000 for roof and gutter work, but the job was done for free by local suppliers and volunteers. If the entire project comes in under budget, any leftover money will go toward ongoing operating costs.

A major element of the capital campaign is The Founders Club, established with the goal of attracting 100 members to pledge $1,000 a year for five years, or about $80 a month. A plaque will hang proudly in the new branch featuring each founder’s name.

Area fundraisers are also lending a helping hand. The Oviedo Youth Advisory Council held a talent show last year to raise money for the new branch and is working on another event this year.

“Every little bit counts,” Alicia says.

While delays have been brought on by unforeseen circumstances this spring, Jeff would like to see the branch open before the next school year begins.

“By summer would be optimal,” he says, “or when things return to normal.”

To learn more about the Oviedo branch or find out how you can help, contact Alicia Hodge at AHodge@BGCCF.org or 407-841-6855.

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