Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa County serving as a Community Hope Center for virtual learning

The Hope Center serves students ages 5-18, providing meals throughout the day and access to mental health professionals .
Community Hope Center

MIAMI, Okla. – In August, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, approved $15 million dollars in Cares Act Coronavirus Relief Funds, to be used towards 30 community hope centers, to provide alternate support networks for kids.

And Miami, Oklahoma is the location of one of them.

In a partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa County opened their doors as a Community Hope Center.

“We’re open all day, we’re open from 7:30 in the morning to 6 in the evening and the biggest thing were doing is ensuring our students on the virtual learning platforms are getting their school work done, that they have the support of their teachers in the district” said Executive Director, Mackenzie Garst.

The Hope Center serves students ages 5-18, providing meals throughout the day and access to mental health professionals .

“We still are operating our traditional after school programs and our fall break programs and Christmas and Thanksgiving programs, but for the most part our students arriving during the day are on the virtual learning platform and they’re new to us in our organization” added Garst.

The Hope Center within the club has 75 kids enrolled.

“This opportunity through DHS was really a blessing in disguise for us to provide the capital in order to keep our doors open for an extended amount of time, to serve more meals, have more staff and serve more kids. So it was really a win-win opportunity for us” said Garst.

Kids like 4th grader Leah Fields, who finds the center to be helpful in keeping her on top of her online classes.

“They help me do my work and make me finish it all and that I don’t fail and my teacher wont yell at them or me.”

And she’s enjoying the atmosphere the center provides.

“If you don’t have any more work, you can either play games or read.”

The Community Hope Centers funding lasts through the end of the year.