Triad Non-Profit Helps Teen Dream Big
Youngsters get support, encouragement and learn to overcome.
The Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club is in Winston-Salem. People here work with children from all economic backgrounds in developing their skills and nurturing their belief that they can do anything they want.On this afternoon, its lunch time. Around 60 children dart across a make-shift cafeteria and get in line to pick up a tray of food. Others are sitting at colorful tables and eating with friends, while the staff makes sure everyone’s stomach is full.
Christian Arellano, a bright sixteen year-old boy, knows all too well about second chances. “Before I went to the Boys and Girls Club it was really rough," says Christian. "I had a lot of family issues and a lot of problems at school.” Christian began coming here after the captain of the Salvation Army spoke with his mother. Pretty soon, Christian and his two siblings joined and he says soon, they all saw a positive change in their lives. “After a few months that I went there, my grades started going up and they thought it was really good for me, my brother and my little sister," says Christian. Christian is 5-foot-7, with short, wavy, brown hair. He greets me with an easy-going demeanor. While sitting next to him, Christian’s brown eyes smile as he describes the tremendous support people at the club give as he works to accomplish his goals.
Pappi Conrad is the Unit Director and has worked with the club for twenty-three years. She says it offers a wide variety of programs such as drug and alcohol prevention, bullying, communication, career and life skill programs. Conrad believes these programs inspire children like Christian to be great and reach their maximum potential. “The programs make a positive difference for the children because many times they don’t get the tools they need at home," explains Conrad. "Not all of the children come from a successful home. So, we’re here to be their parent and to inspire them, to teach them, to love them and let them know that they can become whatever they want to be.”
During the summer, the Club provides lunch and snacks every day as well as numerous field trips from bowling and swimming to movies and amusement parks. However, Conrad says for this Boys and Girls Club to thrive, it needs more support. “We need more volunteers. We need arts and crafts supplies, educational supplies and the community support so they will know what we’re doing here," says Conrad. "We’re just trying to make sure the kids are safe and become productive citizens and any help we get from the community will be very helpful." During the summer, the Club hosts several camps. They cost $395 and are still accepting children and volunteers.
Christian says you can learn fun things at the club but he warns you have to follow the rules. “Be who you are, don’t clown (around) because you will get sent home. Just be yourself and have fun.” Christian is also excited about his future. "I want to graduate and get good grades, get a scholarship and go to college. And make my mom proud.” He also hopes to become a famous soccer player.