BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The pandemic has put many parents in a bind when it comes to childcare.
As schools moved to remote learning, the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club gave those parents a place to turn, and offered children a sense of security during uncertain times.
“We offer a safe place for kids in the Birmingham-Bessemer area for them to have home away from home,” said Outreach and Media Coordinator Rakia Hassell. “They can come and play games, get tutoring, mentorship.”
When school is closed, The A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club in Birmingham is open.
“We focus on academic success, character and leadership as well as healthy lifestyles. We just try to help develop our youth to become productive citizens,” said Hassell.
When the pandemic hit and schools shut down, the club stepped up to help fill the childcare gap that many families were facing.
“We opened our doors for our members to come here, they have Wi-Fi capability, adult support staff, someone to help them log on to their classes, get tutoring during the day and get some sense of normalcy,” Hassell said.
As schools switched to remote learning, the club switched their programming, opening for the entire school day to offer educational, recreational, and physical activities for children, while practicing social distancing measures.
“Kids don’t really understand a pandemic – a lot of us aren’t understanding a pandemic – a lot of them are having a hard time coping with it, but they are still able to come here and see some of their friends and engage of some of their normal activities and then also it gives them a step outside of their four walls,” said Hassell.
Offering extended hours during a pandemic means having more staff on hand and a lot more cleaning. That’s where United Way stepped in.
“United Way has been a big supporter of A.G. Gaston, they always have been,” said Hassell. “With their help and support we’ve have been able to reopen our doors for our members with our extended hours, they have helped us amp up our cleaning, they have helped us buy the cleaning supplies we needed. With their support, our mission continues to thrive.”