I always enjoy going to the Sand Springs Boys and Girls Club because I never know what to expect. I may go there to photograph a Youth of the Year contender and I find kids doing something new and different in the gym. I’m one of those rare souls who likes to be surprised. But I wasn’t surprised when Greg Parker, director of the Sand Springs Club told me that the dark cloud of the recession has had a silver lining for the club. “It’s given us a compelling reason to raise money and we are better off financially than ever,” Greg said. He spends half his time at the club and half his time out in the community building partnerships. That has resulted in at least two new successful programs – starting Boys and Girls Clubs in two elementary schools and reviving a fundraiser, Army of Stars. When I attended Army of Stars two years ago, I sat with guests from the community whose enthusiasm for the club was contagious. Photo below: Sandite Scott Thompson, KOTV-Channel 6 anchor, spoke at Army of Stars.
“The economy has helped us a little in opening doors,” Greg said. The recession in Sand Springs is not over and statistically it shows in the number of parents who apply for scholarships for their kids to become members. Greg said the percentage of scholarships has gone up 10-15% since 2009.
The programs set up in elementary schools allow parents to pay half the price of a club membership because they're only at the club from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. after school. But they still enjoy the benefits of positive mentors and club activities. When an organization is willing to be that flexible in order to meet the needs of kids, the community is bound to notice, and Sand Springs has responded to Greg’s initiatives with support. That’s not to say it’s easy. I know, because between community meetings, out-of-town conferences and work at the club, Greg Parker is not an easy man to track down, even to interview for a blog post.