With schools closed and wildfires bearing down on Napa Valley last week, many parents had to scramble to find reliable emergency child care for their school-aged children.
To fill this community need, the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley decided to extend its hours and add staff at locations in Napa and American Canyon to provide a safe refuge from the smoke. In addition, the club provided hot lunch and afternoon snacks to all youths ages 6-18 in the Napa Valley at no cost, regardless of club membership. The club’s trained staff and a number community partners provided fun activities that allowed hundreds of youth attending daily to join kids their age in just being kids again.
“Opening our doors to young people, especially those who need us the most, is a huge part of our mission,” said Mark Kuhnhausen, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley. “We were doing our part to help the community, including caring for the children of first responders and local government staff that worked to save lives and property as well as the youth of families who lost everything in the fire. Thanks to our dedicated staff and our community partners, we were able to give these kids a special experience as well as a sense of normalcy.”
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On Oct. 19, head coach Billy McKnight of Boys & Girls Clubs community partner Prolific Prep Academy brought 13 players from his nationally ranked high school boys basketball team to teach the players moves, play games and run drills.
“We are blessed to be a part of a community like Napa,” McKnight said. “Our team got together and was looking for a way we could help. When the opportunity presented itself, we were happy to volunteer our time.”
From Oct. 11 to Oct. 19, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley, in partnership with American Canyon Parks and Rec, served 604 youths ages 6-18 at their Napa and American Canyon locations. In addition, the club served 10 families and 22 children under 6 in a special family room that was set up in partnership with Scientopia Discovery Center that provided families with younger children a place to play and run around.
Throughout the school closures, special activities were planned in conjunction with Prolific Prep, Nimbus Arts, Yoga Passion Napa, Otis the Magician, Aaron the Comfort Dog, and many involved community members – including first responders who donated snacks, water and other needed items.
“It was extremely uplifting, not just for the kids, but also the staffers and the parents,” said Chris DeNatale, marketing director and parent at Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley. “Thank you so much to Prolific Prep and the other organizations for providing your time, energy and spirit.”