Eatonville youth will be able to spend more time at the newly rebuilt Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida-Joe R. Lee Branch, thanks to a 30-passenger bus to be purchased using a $55,379 grant approved by the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) through its Children & Youth Work Group.
“The bus will allow 40 to 50 elementary school students to spend an additional five to 10 hours in the club each week and get a nutritious meal before heading home each night,” said Debbie Watson, WPHF Vice President. This is because the bus will be able to transport them safely home after dark—they won’t have to leave early to walk home while there is daylight. (See adjacent story on the new Kids Café.
“It also will enable 35 to 40 new secondary school students from Eatonville on the west side of Interstate-4 to participate in Club programs for the first time,” she added. And having safe transportation will mean 30 to 40 teens from all over Eatonville, particularly females, will be able to come to evening teen programs instead of having to leave before it gets too dark to safely walk home.
The bus also will be used to provide trips for programs and activities offered by local partners in Maitland and Winter Park, and possibly for college tours.
Ms. Watson stated that most operating expenses for the bus will be covered by a multi-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.
The bus should be in operation in early January. At that time, the Club plans to have a bus christening ceremony to celebrate and make sure the community is aware of the addition. More on this later!
Eatonville’s new Boys & Girls Club facility opened in June 2011. WPHF in 2007 approved a $125,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida to support the operating endowment for the Eatonville Branch.