‘Most Important Meal of the Year’: Virtual Event to Showcase Boys & Girls Club’s Strides Through Pandemic

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After the pandemic forced the cancellation of its 2020 “Most Important Meal of the Year” breakfast event, the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County will host their fundraising event virtually this year the morning of April 14.

Normally, “Club kids” bus tables and act as hosts during the fundraising (and “friendraising”) event while speakers — including kids themselves — discuss the program and its impacts. But this year, the community can attend virtually and sign up to get coffee and donuts as they tune in.

Throughout the pandemic, Executive Director Lauren Day said, the Boys & Girls Club essentially had to close its doors to anyone who wasn’t a kid.

“So this is a safe way that people can come back into Club and see and meet our kids and remember that we’re here and what we’re doing,” Day said.

The event is supposed to be a low-key opportunity to support the program and hear from the kids it serves. Every year, the breakfast provides an opportunity to showcase a years’ worth of accomplishments. And this year, there’s plenty to highlight.

When schools closed and classes shifted to virtual formats last year, the Boys & Girls Club expanded operations from four hours a day to 10 — requiring major increases in funding and staffing. The club became a place for students to access the internet while school districts grappled with how to connect kids to online learning. And staffers took on more responsibility to help kids succeed in virtual school.

With kids at the Boys & Girls Club for entire days, versus just after school, the program was able to partner with the Chehalis School District to provide breakfast and lunch. Despite operating through a local and global crisis, the nonprofit was also able to use CARES Act funds to open a site in Centralia. Although that Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School site was slated to come to an end last year, additional grant funding means it will be able to operate for the next five years.

The Chehalis location also saw the addition of a modular classroom to its parking lot. The structure hosts two classrooms and will be turned into a teen clubhouse after the pandemic.

When schools reopen and parents no longer need all-day childcare, Day says the nonprofit will likely be able to focus its resources on other projects like the United Learning Center or potentially a new site in the community.

The breakfast event on April 14 will start at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to last about half an hour. Participants can choose a free option to receive the event link or a $25 option to receive an attendee packet, coffee coupon and donut either delivered or ready for pick-up. For $100, workplaces can receive a sharable link and enough coffee and donuts to go around the office.

“Since there’s the free option, we hope people will take the opportunity to participate and learn a bit more about Club,” Day said. “Just kind of take the opportunity, learn a little bit more about us and hopefully offer us some sort of partnership in the future.”

To register for the event, go to https://bit.ly/2NP4Til 

Contact the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County at 360-345-1700 for more information.