The Olivet Boys & Girls Club has launched “Hubs of Hope”, a new community initiative aimed to serve youth and families by connecting multiple local services, including clothing closets, mental health services, academic support, and more into a central community program.
The announcement was made Thursday during a press conference at the Pendora Club. In addition to economic challenges for families, the COVID-19 pandemic has created academic challenges and mental health issues for students across the country.
“Olivet is well aware of the struggles that youth and families are facing in the local community. With the assistance of community partners, Olivet has always strived to serve as a community safety net to provide a wide range of programs and services to youth and families,” said Chris Winters, President, and CEO of Olivet Boys & Girls Club.
“However, due to the ongoing issues created by the pandemic, it is important now more than ever to continue to strengthen and build new community partnerships to provide holistic support to youth, especially those that need us the most.”
As an organization that serves youth across Berks County, and has established partnerships with school districts and various, local businesses and organizations, Olivet staff saw a unique opportunity to transition clubs to serve as community resource hubs, otherwise known as “Hubs of Hope.”
One of the first steps in the endeavor is to create “care closets” at each club site, with the first “care closet” recently being established at the Pendora Club. These “care closets” consist of basic need items such as food, toiletries, clothing, and feminine hygiene products.
The concept is that club members can enter the closet, no questions asked, and take items that they need or may be needed for other family members. School district liaisons, community organizations, and social service agencies can also refer youth to Olivet to access the care closets are become club members at no cost to access other programs and services offered by Olivet.
The Hubs of Hope are designed to serve as a multi-faceted referral system. School district liaisons and community organizations can refer youth in need to Olivet who can become club members at no cost and access the care closet, mental health services, academic support, and other programs and services.
In turn, through these partnerships, already established Olivet members and families will then have a pathway to access community services if they are in need.
“There are over 80,000 youth in Berks County. It is imperative that schools and organizations build strong connections in order to create a community-wide safety net for the youth that need us the most” said Winters.
“The creation of the ‘Hubs of Hope’ will allow us to expand and enhance local partnerships and outreach to more youth that can benefit from our programs and services to achieve bright futures.”
Funds to create the care closets and “Hubs of Hope” initiative were provided by Customer’s Bank, the United Way, Chick Fil A Foundation, Berks County Community Foundation, Visions Federal Credit Union, and Giant.
Donations of items for the care closet were provided by local companies/organizations including Reading Pediatrics and Boscovs. Winters also stated Thursday afternoon that additional donations are welcome from the public to the Care Closets, mentioning shoes are an item frequently needed.