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Cobre Valley Youth Club set to expand

Globe-The roar of an elementary school bus disappearing over the hill is replaced by shouts and giggles of children feeling the relief of release as they line up in front of a small brown and white building.

The building, which can only hold up to 60 people at a time, is soon bustling with activity as the 45 children from the Copper Rim bus chat, eat snacks and rummage through their backpacks for homework. They are soon joined by 13 fellow elementary students from Charles A. Bejarano school in Miami, who are bused from across the Valley by Club staff.

“I don’t have any homework,” announces one boy, and the refrain is picked up by several of his earnest-eyed schoolmates who still haven’t quite figured out the system.

“Well, good,” says Melissa Hobbs, Cobre Valley Youth program coordinator. “Because I have homework for you to do!”

Within minutes, the boys are either pulling out their actual homework – suddenly remembered, or they are settling down to skill papers appropriate to their grade.

In the middle of the table sits a particular boy, who, pencil in hand, is halfway through his first page of work. When he glances up to ask a question, he looks into the eyes of the woman who not only can help him with his current question but who is largely responsible for the fact that he can now read.

Club staff smile as they watch his newfound confidence, which shows in the lift of his chin and the slight swagger of his walk, then they hear the roar of another bus as it pulls up to deposit another load of Club members, then another.

By the end of homework hour, which is often longer for students with more homework, the scene is reminiscent of an old-time school house bursting with staff and older students acting as tutors for the younger children.

Fortunately, there is also a playground where children can let out their pent-up energy and a basketball court where sports instructor Isaac Yniquez plays an energetic game with youths of all ages. On Fridays and school holidays, the Club runs camps specifically focused on health, character and productivity.

Growing out of the building

Rather than letting the over-crowded conditions of the building discourage them, the governing board members of the Cobre Valley Youth Club have been spurred into action. After talking about the need for a new building the last couple of years, the board has taken its first steps in that direction.

The Globe Rotary Club voted unanimously Dec. 27 to pledge $10,000 to start the capital campaign for a new building in 2018.

Mickie Nye, a member of the Youth Club board and the Globe Rotary Club, said it was time for the Club to stop talking about expansion and get busy expanding.

“I should not be surprised by how willing this community is to invest in its youth, but I am still blown away by its generosity,” said Aimee Staten, executive director for the Club. “Thank you, Globe Rotary, for being the first. We know it takes courage and vision beyond what can presently be seen to take such a step, and the entire community will soon benefit.”

The newfound determination to find a building that can serve all young people in the Globe Miami area came with the formation of the new organization. The Club, which was part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley – Globe Branch until June of 2017, has formed its own nonprofit under the name of Cobre Valley Youth Club.

Now, the Club wants to build on its successes with younger members by creating a Teen Center that caters to and serves the needs of that population.

“We need a building large enough to serve all of the youths in our communities,” said Carmen Casillas.

The vision for the Teen Center includes, but is not limited to the following elements:

  • an expansive computer lab, for which a grant has already been written;
  • a Teen Café where members can hang out, drink coffee and learn how to run a business;
  • space and opportunities for job and college fairs, recruitment and enrichment programs;
  • a place to hold parties after games and to celebrate milestones

Nye said he sees the future of the Club as a place where youths will want to go and their parents will feel comfortable knowing their kids are in a safe, positive environment.

Program coordinator Melissa Hobbs teaches young Club members how to read. The goal of the Cobre Valley Youth Club is obtain a building where more young members can be served and a Teen Center can be constructed.

Although tutoring and help with homework is important to Casillas, she is also concerned about developing the whole person.

“We need our children to be in a safe and healthy environment so they can succeed in education and get the tools necessary to compete worldwide for top jobs,” she said. “We have a small piece of that now, thanks for our fantastic director Aimee Staten and her staff, but we need to commit to making our young people the best they can be.”

Looking for new digs

Presently, the Club is looking at two buildings in the Claypool area as potential sites for a new Club. The reason for the location is so the Club can serve both the Globe and Miami communities in a central area. The benefit of both locations for members and parents is that they are both within walking distance of a school and shopping district.

Club Board President Fernando Shipley said he can tell a lot about a community by the way it treats its youth and its elderly.

“The biggest thing a community can do is remember there are a lot of kids in need,” Shipley said. That need is not only financial but also environmental and societal.

Matt Storms, Club Board vice president, is excited about the forward momentum of the Club and its vision. Although he wants it to be a fun, safe place for young people to hang out during off hours from school and during the summer and holidays, it is also a place where “young people can voice their opinions and thoughts about topics affecting our communities and feel like their ideas are being heard.”

Members of the Club Board of Directors are pursuing other avenues of funding for the capital campaign. To be a part of this exciting endeavor, contact any of the Board members or call Aimee Staten at 928-651-1781 or email her at aimeejstaten@gmail.com.

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