By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

There isn’t any real debate on whether Boys’ and Girls' Clubs can be an important link the development of a young boy or girl’s physical and academic development. The testimonials are there, from such heavyweights as National Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs spokesperson Denzel Washington to Condoleeza Rice, the former Secretary of State, and of course Colin Powel, who is a director along with Rice of the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America.

Throw in former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and a millions of others young persons who have been a part off the Boys’ and Girls’ program and you’ve got the makings of something positive.

Lemoore should consider joining the effort to bring a club to Lemoore.

Lemoore needs a Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Our youth need a place where they can go after school to get additional tutoring, a snack and enjoy some recreational activities. The City of Lemoore needs to take a good, strong look at what a Boys’ and Girls’ Club could provide us.

For months if not years Lemoore City Councilman Eddie Neal has been pushing the concept of a Boys and Girls’ Club in Lemoore. Recently more meetings have been held to find a location, develop a fundraising strategy and bring folks together in an effort to create an organization for Lemoore.

What is a Boys’ and Girls’ club?

According to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club mission, 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. Such clubs offer that and more. Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs are a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. It is the place where great futures are started each and every day. Neal and his friends want to start a Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Lemoore and help instill in Lemoore’s youth that sense of competence, usefulness, and belonging that people like Washington says forged his early years, and helped him to become the man he is today.

Neal, in his ongoing effort to bring the organization to Lemoore, has teamed with Boys’ and Girls’ Club of the Sequoias Executive Director Joe Engelbrecht to make Neal’s dream come true. But it’s going to take work.

Engelbrecht related that he gets many phone calls every year asking for a club or Lemoore. I guess one of those calls has been from Neal.

Engelbrecht said there is a need in Lemoore who said there are probably four or five hundred children in this community who aren’t receiving any after-school services. And that’s what Boys and Girls Clubs is all about.

Such clubs are closely aligned with local schools. Many of the youngsters who take part in Boys’ and Girls’ clubs bring homework with them from school to do at their respective clubs. Neal acknowledges that it’s going to cost money, about $100,000 per year to keep such a club operating, but he thinks Lemoore can do it.

The City of Lemoore needs to vigorously study a partnership with the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and find a place in the Cinnamon Recreational Complex. Such an effort would boost the recreation efforts of the city of Lemoore. Bring the schools in to help share the cost off the program.