February 1, 2008 - Baltimore, MD - It didn't take long for word to spread in the 400-family public housing community that a long-awaited after-school program was moving in. Before officially opening their doors yesterday, Baltimore's newest Boys & Girls Club at Brooklyn Homes had already attracted a devoted group of teens who were spending their afternoons and weekends cleaning, painting and encouraging their friends to join.
"If the Club wasn't here, I'd hang out on the street," stated 18-year-old Jeffrey Tillman. "The Club gives us something to do and to make friends," added Zalika, another local teen. Thursday, the new Club played host to more than 150 parents and kids who came to learn more about the positive life-skills development programs being offered to children of all grade levels. In a neighborhood notably void of shops, restaurants or any entertainment, and better known for crime, violence and drugs, the new Club offers a safe alternative.
Rosalie Pack, a 37-year resident of Brooklyn Homes, put the evening into perspective. "We've been working to improve our neighborhood and working with police to reduce drug use and crime and now we have a place for kids to go other than the streets. The parents are very thankful. Now they know where their kids are and the kids are getting positive support."
Complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the presentation of a $50,000 check from Toyota Financial Services (TFS), the evening signified what many here see as a ray of hope in a community many feel has been forgotten.
The TFS donation will go toward funding the Club's most critical and urgent needs including lifeskills and prevention programs, and merit opportunities designed to reward youth for excelling in school, taking on leadership roles and participating in community activities. Programs will include career enrichment, arts, sports and fitness and family support resources in a safe, culturally sensitive, fun and caring environment.
Long-time supporters of various community projects and programs, the 425 employees at the TFS Customer Service Center located in suburban Baltimore chose to support this particular new Club as part of TFS' national Making Life Easier for YOUth program, which launched last year. The program showcases the company's dedication to improving the lives of youth and families in under-served communities.
Thanking TFS for their partnership, Ken Darden, executive director of Harford County/Metro Baltimore Boys & Girls Clubs told the crowd, "Our partnership with Toyota Financial Services is extremely important to our efforts here at Brooklyn Homes. Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Baltimore is proud to serve this community and honored to have a corporate partner that truly cares and strives to "give back" to the community. TFS has once again, earnestly stepped forward to make a difference in the lives of children, families and struggling communities."
John Ridgeway, corporate manager of the TFS Customer Service Center was on hand to present the $50,000 check on behalf of the 425 employees of the suburban Baltimore-based facility. Ridgeway thanked Darden and the other Boys & Girls Club staff for all they have accomplished already and for the work that lies ahead.
"We at TFS are excited about our new partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and the opening of the Brooklyn Homes facility. We are passionate about our community involvement and care about providing extraordinary care to our associates, customers and the community in which we reside."
As a surprise bonus gift, Ridgeway announced that in addition to the specially designed t-shirts celebrating the Club, the first 150 new Club members would receive a backpack filled with a variety of school supplies.
ABOUT THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF HARFORD COUNTY/METRO BALITMORE
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County/Metro Baltimore has been offering youth development programs and services for children/families of Harford County for seventeen-years. In early 2006 B&GCHC was asked by the National Office, B&GCA, to reestablish Boys & Girls Clubs in the City of Baltimore. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to accept the challenge. The mission of B&GCHC/MB is: To inspire and enable all young people, especially those most in need, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The organizational goals are: To reach and meet the needs of at-risk children/families that others fail to reach; provide quality and effective programs/services to all children that come through the doors; place an emphasis on impacting children/youth through educational enhancement and prevention programs and to partner with other agencies, schools, churches, government agencies, businesses, foundations and community stakeholders who will help make a difference in severely distressed communities. To learn more about the B&GCHC/MB, visit www.elabgc.org or call Alonda Simmons at 410-637-3838.
ABOUT TOYOTA FINANCIAL SERVICES
Headquartered in Torrance, Calif., Toyota Financial Services (TFS) is the finance and insurance brand for Toyota in the United States, offering retail auto financing and leasing through Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC) and extended service contracts through Toyota Motor Insurance Services (TMIS). TFS currently employs approximately 3,000 associates in the United States. Committed to helping people improve the quality of life in their communities, TFS launched its national Making Life Easier Program on April 16, 2007 by announcing an inaugural partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Los Angeles. TFS is proud to create new experiences and educational opportunities for youth through scholarships and support for after-school programs.
Employing 425 associates at its Customer Service Center in Owings Mills, Maryland, Toyota Financial Services is a major employer and community partner in the greater Baltimore area supporting many local causes and charities such as the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, the annual WJZ Black History Month Oratory Contest, Women Empowering Women Conference, James McHenry Elementary School, the Boys & Girls Club and more. To learn more about TFS and its Making Life Easier program, call Elena Sacca at (310) 468-5522.
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