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  • Writer's pictureBGC Metro Baltimore

BGCMB's Laurel Woods Club Opens Its Blue Doors To New Members In Howard County

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Meet Today's Club Staff and Tomorrow's Leaders: Staff and Club Members pose for the first of many group photos for our growing community in Laurel Woods.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore’s goal 'to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens’ has reached newer heights with the grand opening of free, enriching programming at Laurel Woods Elementary School. Opening at the close of last year, this in-school Club which is also a licensed childcare facility is redefining the standard of enriching programming to our members who attend this school nestled in Howard County—just over 20 miles west from Downtown Baltimore.

Building The Foundation: Laurel Woods' Club Manager, Justin Lawrence, and December's Club Member of the Month, Jikai, are proud to tell the world that their Club is the first in Howard County.

The benefits of being located inside the school offer our Club to the amenities that come with having access to the school’s cafeteria, auxiliary gymnasium, two classrooms and media center. Programs such as Smart Moves, Triple Play and others are introducing the 22 members currently attending The Club with room for more as registration applications continue to roll in as the word-of-mouth advertisement of the Club’s opening rounds the community. Justin Lawrence, Laurel Woods’ first-ever Club Manager after completing the required two 45-hour-long trainings in School Age Curriculum and Child Growth & Development, and his talented staff members are already leading the way for The Movement’s expansion to this audience and the positive ripple effects of BGCMB’s afterschool programming.

“The opening of the Laurel Woods Club is a steppingstone for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore in this section of Howard County and the nearby surrounding communities,” Justin begins, highlighting the level of outreach this new Club brings to this location in Howard County. “It’s important for this Club to be in Laurel Woods because we have a large demographic of youth—most of them being black and brown—who will now be able to gain those much-needed interactions with positive role models who not only have their best interest at heart, but also have some of the shared cultural experiences that allows them to feel seen more than usual.”

Moving Right Along: Youth Development Coordinator, Diona Boler, leads an engaging session of Smart Moves with a group of focused Club members.

Creating that heightened sense of impact on our members Justin mentioned starts from the very first day during the interactions our Club members have with each and every staff member. Representation is central to the many diverse learning environments Boys & Girls Clubs of America strive to create for all who enter each pair of our Blue Doors located nationwide. Here in Maryland, Laurel Woods is becoming another welcoming environment that can be felt by members once Justin or one of his team of Youth Development Coordinators sits down with them for ‘Power Hour’ to the moments of enjoying their first afternoon of ‘Free Play’ awaiting them outdoors.

Building that lifelong bond our members will have in time and the one many of our alumni still do have with The Club starts every day. For all the high yield goals set forth by The Movement and those individually of our members, it all starts with the team assembled to help transform these attainable dreams into thriving realities. The process to find the perfect candidates to launch this new location of afterschool and summer programming was a feat that he and BGCMB’s Regional Director of the Eastern Shore, Anna Piccirilli, ably completed after a review of the many more than qualified applicants.

One Page At A Time: Youth Development Coordinator, Brooklynne Lowry, sits with Club Member Kymerah for some extra reading time.

“Anna will tell you, we went through a lot of applications and conducted several interviews before we narrowed our search to put this team together,” Justin laughingly recollects thinking back to the large amount qualified candidates who applied. "Diona Boler is one of the pieces of our dedicated team that’s growing,” says Justin before introducing one of the many affects Diona brings to the Laurel Woods team. “She’s a nurturer and softspoken, which is a quality that resonates well with a large group of our kids who reflect that piece of her personality.” Justin instantly starts to highlight the next two staff members filling up his roster of Youth Development Coordinators. “Then we have Wilkens Pierre Louis. He’s the athlete of the group. He likes fun activities—loves to run around with the kids and is very energetic. We also have William Marks—who is currently completing his master's in social work. He’s more of the cerebral type who loves to sit down with the children during one-on-one sessions with them to get a better understanding of how we as a staff can best serve each youth. He also steps up to positively assist in conflict resolution.” Justin then points out the latest addition to the team. “And our final hire, Brooklynne Lowry, just started recently. She’s a graduate of Howard University and is already showing her great leadership skills when it comes to helping to implement programming each day by her genuine nature with the kids. Brooklynne’s definitely the final piece we needed to create the dynamic team here at Laurel Woods."

Solving Problems By Finding Solutions: Club Member Ryan is front and center as she leads The Club in answering a series of math problems for the afternoon's exercise.

Unity within a Club staff happens when individuals are linked to the goal of bringing the best educational and social experiences to these young minds—these future decision makers—necessitates cohesion within the larger communities we actively serve. These winning qualities exhibited by the Laurel Woods Club staff are synonymous with Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore’s effective model that strengthens the academic qualities, promotes social emotional wellness and taps into the horizon-broadening potential of each member. Welcoming Howard County to The Movement is a landmark achievement that never goes unappreciated by Justin Lawrence or his dedicated team.

“It’s fulfilling for our entire team to know that we can offer this experience to the community while also instilling wisdom, character development and knowledge into the Club members we serve.”

Want to learn more about the large strides being made at our Clubs? Click here to stay up to date with all the news shaping The Movement happening here in Metropolitan Baltimore. Click here to find out how you can add to the direct impact shaping the lives of our youth all year long.

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