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Howard University > Alternative Spring Break 2013
ASB Helps Baltimore Boys & Girls Club Continue To Provide a Safe Haven

By Sydnee Monday
Howard University News Service

BALTIMORE (March 15, 2013)—In this city, too many children need a safe haven, a place away from gangs like Black Guerilla Family or Dead Man Incorporated, a place where they don’t worry about being killed in a drive-by shooting while sitting on the stoop in front of their homes or while walking back from corner store.

The Brooklyn-O’Malley Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore is such a place, which is why the Howard University Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program chose it as one of its sites to help during the university’s annual March break.

For a week, ASB Baltimore volunteers worked at the site, cleaning and painting and teaching and mentoring children and teenagers.  The club serves students from elementary to high school and offers an alternative to the gangs that plague the city.  Curbing gang membership and gang violence was the mission for the volunteers in Baltimore.

The club is structured, but offers enough free time for students to have fun.  The first 45 minutes are called the power hour, a time for students to do their homework.  In addition, there are a number of life skill program students, such as the Passport to Manhood program, which helps kids 12 to teenagers.

Students get classes in how to manage money, computer skills and there are dance and theater classes.   The club makes sure there is free time for the students to play basketball and other games.

Students get help with their homework and the club feeds its charges once daily.  Laure Julliard, director of the club, said the organization has one simple purpose.

“We want to help parents who are doing okay and save the children whose parents aren’t doing okay,” she said.

As part of their plan to improve the physical structure of the Boys & Girls Club, Howard students removed trash and old clothes and reorganized spaces so they could be better used.  In the process, they created a coat room.  They repainted the bathrooms, the dance room.  They cleaned and reorganized the kitchen and created murals.

The ASB volunteers took out time from their painting and cleaning on Thursday for an anti-bullying program.  They broke into groups and each group took a different approach to handling bullying.  Some had self-esteem exercises.   Others talked about the effects of bulling and how it made the children feel.  Another group talked about alternative ways to deal with conflict.

Yah Kamei, a freshman biology major from Monrovia, Liberia, and Amadea Allen, a junior from Alexandria, Va., majoring in political science, finish re-touching a table at The Brooklyn-O’Malley Boys And Girls Club.

The children were engaged.  They asked questions, and bonds were formed as they Boys and Girls club attendees played handball with the Howard students.

Julliard said she was grateful that Howard students chose her club to help during their spring break, and invited them back.  The ASB volunteers were role models to the students at the club, she said.

“My greatest wish for the youth that come here is for them all to go to college, come back to change their community and learn how to love more,” she said.  “If we all learned to love more, there wouldn’t be as much death.

“But they are facing a lot of challenges.”

Photos by Sydnee Monday, Howard University
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