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YCQM -- July 28, 2013 -- Mary Alice McKenzie, Dottie Olio - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM -- July 28, 2013 -- Mary Alice McKenzie, Dottie Olio

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

You Can Quote Me -- July 28, 2013 -- Mary Alice McKenzie of the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington and Dottie Olio, the director of Early Promise, join Kristin Carlson and Keith McGilvery to discuss youth in Vermont.

TRANSCRIPT:

>> THANK YOU, LADIES, FOR BOTH BEING HERE TODAY. YOU PREVIOUSLY CAME OUT AND SPOKE PRETTY POWERFULLY ABOUT THE ISSUE OF GANGS. TALK TO ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT. WHY TAKE THAT STANCE?

>> SURE. THANK YOU FOR ASKING THE QUESTION. ABOUT A YEAR AGO, MAYBE 18 MONTHS AGO, KIDS WHO COME TO THE CLUB REGULARLY STARTED SHARING THEIR CONCERNS AND THEIR WORRIES ABOUT WHAT THEY PERCEIVED IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, AND REALLY WHAT THEY WERE TALKING TO US ABOUT WAS PRETTY VISIBLE TO THEM DRUG TRAFFICKING, DRUG DEALING RELATED ISSUES. AND TO BE VERY BLUNT, KIDS TOLD US THAT THEY WERE SCARED. SO WE STARTED LOOKING AT THE SITUATION, AND WE COULD UNDERSTAND WHY THEY'RE SCARED. WE FELT SCARED. SO WE STARTED REACHING OUT TO A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY TO SAY, ARE YOU SEEING WHAT YOU'RE SEEING? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT CAN WE DO? WE SPENT SOME TIME LOOKING AT WHAT CAN THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB DO TO BE CONSTRUCTIVE, AND SO WE ARE JUST FORMULATING SOME IDEAS ABOUT PROGRAMMING.

>> JUST TO BE CLEAR WITH FOLKS AT HOME, YOU'RE WORKING WITH KIDS KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12th GRADE. WHAT WERE THEY COMING TO YOU WITH? WHAT WERE THEY SEEING AND HEARING?

>> WELL, THEY WERE SEEING AND HEARING A LOT OF TALK ABOUT DRUGS. THEY WERE HEARING, AND WHAT THEY SAID IS THEY WERE SEEING PEOPLE IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS THAT THEY DIDN'T KNOW. AND SOME OF OUR OLDER KIDS WERE SAYING THAT THEY WERE AFRAID TO WALK HOME AT NIGHT THROUGH THEIRv8>OC NEIGHBORHOODS. SO THIS IS OF GREAT CONCERN TO US, OBVIOUSLY. WE DO SEE KIDS FROM KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12th GRADE. THE CONCERNS WERE EXPRESSED MORE BY MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL KIDS, OBVIOUSLY, THAN OUR SMALL KIDS. AS YOU KNOW, THE WORD GANG GETS A LOT OF PEOPLE'S ATTENTION REALLY FAST. WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

>> THERE'S TWO DIFFERENT MEANINGS TO THE WORD AS IT RELATES TO WHAT I'VE TALKED ABOUT. AND ONE MEANING IS THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CONTROL DRUG SUPPLY, WHO BRING DRUGS INTO VERMONT, AND IN PARTICULAR, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HEROIN. HEROIN IS NOT A LOCALLY GROWN CROP. HEROIN HAS TO BE BROUGHT IN TO OUR NEIGHBORHOODS BY SOMEONE OR SOME PEOPLE WHO CONTROL SUPPLY. AND THEY NETWORK THROUGH LOCAL DRUG DEALERS. WHAT WE'RE HEARING IS THAT PEOPLE BRINGING HEROIN INTO OUR STATE HAVE CONNECTIONS TO GANGS FROM CITIES. SO THAT IS ONE MEANING OF THE WORD. THE OTHER MEANING OF THE WORD IS THAT SOMETHING I THINK OUR COMMUNITY DOESN'T RECOGNIZE IS THAT WHEN THERE IS A HIGH LEVEL OF DRUG TRAFFICKING ACTIVITY IN A COMMUNITY, CHILDREN ARE COLLATERAL DAMAGE, AND YOU'RE COLLATERAL DAMAGE IN A COUPLE OF WAYS. IF A PARENT BECOMES ADDICTED, THE FOCUS FOR THE PARENT IS TO FIND THEIR DRUG. THE FOCUS ISN'T GOING TO BE AS IT NORMALLY WOULD BE, ON THEIR CHILD, AND THE CHILD SUFFERS. CHILDREN ARE ALSO EXPOSED TO AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE DRUGS ARE BEING DEALT. SOMETIMES THEY'RE ASKED TO PARTICIPATE. SO THE WAY THAT HAPPENS IS THEY'RE ASKED TO CARRY A BACKPACK, STAND ON THE STREET CORNER. I'LL GIVE YOU $20. THEY BECOME EXPOSED TO A LIFE THAT'S NOT HEALTHY, THAT CAN BECOME SOMEWHAT -- THEY START FORMING THEIR OWN IDEA OF THIS IS A WAY TO MAKE MONEY, AND I'M GOING TO TALK TO MY FRIENDS ABOUT IT AND WE'RE GOING TO FORM A GROUP, AND WE'RE GOING TO PARTICIPATE.

>> NOW, IS THAT HAPPENING NOW?

>> THAT IS -- I THINK -- WE THINK THAT WE ARE SEEING THE BEGINNINGS OF THAT. WE ARE NOT SAYING THIS IS SOMETHING -- WE HAVEN'T LOST OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. THIS IS NOT LIKE YOU SEE ON TV. IT'S NOT LIKE YOU READ ABOUT IN THE NEWSPAPER, THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING IN BIG CITIES IN, CHICAGO, ON THE WEST COAST, IN DETROIT. WE HAVEN'T REACHED THAT LEVEL, NOT BY ANY MEANS, BUT WE'RE SAYING, WE ARE NOT IMMUNE FROM THE VIOLENCE THAT DRUG DEALING BRINGS INTO EVERY COMMUNITY. IT CERTAINLY HAS PRESENTED IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS, AND WE WANT TO DO SOMETHING NOW BEFORE WE'RE FACING A MUCH BIGGER ISSUE THAT INVOLVES OUR KIDS IN THE FUTURE.

>> DEBBY, YOU WORK WITH KIDS AND PROGRAMMING AS THE EDUCATION DIRECTOR. HAVE YOU SEEN ANY IMPACTS ON KIDS AT THE GROUND LEVEL?

>> THROUGH OUR EDUCATION PROGRAM, WE HAVE. WE HAVE -- WE STARTED OUR PROGRAM FOUR YEARS AGO, AND WE SAW A LOT OF RESISTANCE FROM OUR KIDS FOUR YEARS AGO, AND NOW WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IS THAT KIDS ARE WALKING THROUGH OUR DOORS ASKING US TO HELP THEM ACADEMICALLY, AND OUR PURPOSE IS TO EQUIPPED THEM WITH THE SKILLS THAT THEY CAN GO ON TO A TRAINING PROGRAM OR SOME SORT OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION TO BE ABLE TO THEN, YOU KNOW, GET OUT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND GET THEMSELVES OUT OF POVERTY.

>> SPEAKING ABOUT THIS PROBLEM, IT SEEMS TO BE JUST STARTING. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT EDUCATING KIDS, IS THERE ANY SORT OF SENSE OF MAYBE TRYING TO FOCUS EDUCATION ON DRUGS? AND MAYBE THAT'S ALREADY HAPPENING. I SEE TWO BIG NODS FROM BOTH OF YOU.

>> THAT'S EXACTLY THE POINT THAT WE'RE AT NOW. IF WE -- THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB IS NOT LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND WE'RE NOT -- YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT JUDICIARY. WE'RE NOT CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN ANY WAY. WE'RE ABOUT KIDS, AND SO NOW THAT WE'VE ASSESSED WHAT WE BELIEVE IS THE SITUATION AND WE'VE DETERMINED -- WHAT'S THE ROLE OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB? THE ROLE OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB IS TO SERVE CHILDREN WHO NEED US MOST. THOSE NEEDS CHANGE OVER TIME. RIGHT NOW WE THINK WE NEED TO CREATE DIFFERENT PROGRAMMING THAT WILL DIRECTLY TRY TO PREVENT MORE KIDS FROM BEING INVOLVED IN DRUGS. WHAT THAT PROGRAMMING IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE, WE DON'T KNOW YET. WE'RE RIGHT AT THE POINT OF SAYING, OKAY, NOW IS THE TIME OF THE REAL WORK. LET'S CALL PEOPLE TOGETHER, COMMUNITY LEADERS, FAMILIES TOGETHER AND HELP US FORM WHAT THAT PROGRAMMING IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE. THAT'S THE POINT THAT WE'RE AT RIGHT NOW.

>> AND PART OF THIS PROACTIVE APPROACH IS THE CREATION OF A NEW TASK FORCE.

>> WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE?

>> I'LL TELL YOU WHAT IT HAS BEEN AND THEN WHAT IT WILL BE. WHAT IT HAS BEEN IS VERY AD HOC. IT HAS -- AND IT WAS A WAY OF TRYING TO VALIDATE WHAT WE THOUGHT WE WERE SEEING, BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE A LOT OF STATISTICS. WE HAVEN'T BEEN STUDYING THIS FOR YEARS, AND WE CAN'T SAY, OH, YES, IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS THERE'S BEEN A 60% INCREASE. WE HAVE STORIES FROM KIDS. SO WE ASKED A NUMBER OF PEOPLE TO COME MEET WITH US TO SAY, ARE WE CRAZY? ARE WE ACCURATE? AND THEN TO TRY TO FORM A RULE ABOUT WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB. SO PREVENTIONS WHAT WE'VE DETERMINED, AND SO NOW WHAT WE HOPE TO DO IS PULL TOGETHER A REAL ADVISORY BOARD TO HELP US CREATE REALLY DEEP, IMPACTFUL PROGRAMMING.

>> YOU MENTIONED THAT THIS PROBLEM IS JUST STARTING, WHICH IS WHY YOU'RE STARTING THE CONVERSATION NOW. IT'S NOT ENTRENCHED AS MUCH YET. DO YOU WORRY THAT THERE COULD BE A LOT OF LAG TIME HERE WHILE PROGRAMMING IS DEVELOPED AND ADULTS MEET AND THERE'S COMMITTEES AND CONVERSATIONS. AS YOU KNOW, THOSE CAN TAKE TIME. ARE YOU WORRIED IT'S NOT GOING TO BE IN TIME TO RESPOND TO THE PROBLEM?

>> I THINK THAT IS A WORRY. I HOPE THAT ONE OF THE SIDE BENEFITS, YOU KNOW, IS TAKING A RISK, THAT ONE OF SIDE BENEFITS OF ASKING PEOPLE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ISSUE IS THAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD DO THEIR JOBS, TOO. ALL SEGMENTS OF THE COMMUNITY HAVE TO DECIDE IF THEY BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A DRUG PROBLEM IN THIS STATE, A CONNECTED CRIME ISSUE IN THE STATE, AND THEY NEED TO DECIDE WHAT ROLE THEY'RE GOING TO PLAY TO PUSH BACK ON THIS. WE HAVE TO DO -- WE HAVE TO DO OUR PART, AND IT IS GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME, AND WE GET THAT, BUT WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN OUR EDUCATION PROGRAM IS THAT IT'S WELL WORTH THE TIME TO DO IT RIGHT.

>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS EDUCATION PROGRAM. IT'S CALLED THE EARLY PROMISE PROGRAM. WHAT IS IT'S GOAL? WHAT IS IT DOING?

>> LIKE WE SAID BEFORE, OUR GOAL IS TO START WITH OUR KIDS THAT NEED US THE MOST AND TO HELP SUPPORT THEM THROUGH THE EDUCATION SYSTEM.

>> HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY THOSE KIDS?

>> WE TARGET THOSE KIDS BASED ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF, YOU KNOW, DIFFERENT FAMILIES AND KIDS, BUT WE ALSO WORK REALLY CLOSELY WITH THEM ON HOMEWORK, AND SO WE CAN SEE WHO NEEDS US TO STEP IN AND HELP THEM, WHETHER IT'S JUST SOME SUPPLEMENTAL ACTIVITIES AFTER SCHOOL WITH THEM, WHETHER IT'S, YOU KNOW, HELPING THEM AFTER OUR HOMEWORK HELP. AND SO WE TARGET. WE SERVE ALL OF OUR KIDS. WE DO A MANDATORY HOMEWORK HELP FOR EVERY KID THAT WALKS THROUGH OUR BUILDING, THE SAME TIME EVERY DAY. THE CLUB SHUTS DOWN, AND WE ARE ALL DOING HOMEWORK. AND THEN WE CAN SEE, YOU KNOW, OKAY, WHO NEEDS EXTRA SUPPORT, AND THEN WE'LL WORK WITH LOCAL MIDDLE SCHOOLS OR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS TO GET THE TUTORING SERVICES OR JUST TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THAT CHILD NEEDS, AND THEN WE'LL PROVIDE THOSE SERVICES. WE'LL EITHER PROVIDE THEM OURSELVES, OR WE'LL REACH OUT TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND ASK THEM TO HELP US PROVIDE THOSE SERVICES.

>> SO WHAT -- AND WHEN DID THIS PROGRAM START?

>> WE WERE IN FULL SWING FOUR YEARS AGO.

>> WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN IN TERMS OF RESULTS?

>> WE HAVE SEEN -- ESPECIALLY WE DO A LOT OF WORK WITH SYLVAN LEARNING CENTER. WE HAVE SEEN LARGE JUMPS IN GRADE LEVELS. WE'VE SEEN SOME KIDS GO FROM, YOU KNOW, STARTING THEIR FIRST ASSESSMENT ON A FIRST GRADE LEVEL WHEN THEY'RE LIKE IN FOURTH OR FIFTH GRADE, AND THEN ENDING -- THEY'RE DOING A POST-ASSESSMENT AND COMING OUT RIGHT AT GRADE LEVEL.

>> ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN AT THE CLUB KNOWS IT'S A REALLY ACTIVE PLACE ALL THE TIME. IT'S NOT NECESSARILY SEPTEMBER TO JUNE. WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER NOW, BUT THAT DOESN'T SLOW YOU GUYS DOWN.

>> IT DOESN'T. EVEN WITH OUR SUMMER PROGRAM, WE HAVE ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES INTO OUR SUMMER PROGRAM, SO EACH GRADE LEVEL HAS SIMILAR REQUIREMENTS THROUGH THE SCHOOL. I HAVE MET WITH OUR MIDDLE SCHOOLS TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THOSE REQUIREMENTS ARE, HOW AND WHO I CAN COMMUNICATE WITH AT THE END OF THE SUMMER AND HOW WE CAN SUPPORT OUR KIDS TO GET THOSE SUMMER REQUIREMENTS MET DURING SUMMER HOURS.

>> YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB WAS GOING TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND LOOK AT PROGRAMMING AND WHAT NEEDS TO HELP THESE KIDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD BECAUSE OF THIS DRUG DEALING, HEROIN. SO WE LOOK AT THE EARLY PROMISE PROGRAM. IS THIS SOMETHING THAT GETS AT THAT, OR IS THIS THE AVENUE THAT YOU WOULD GO THROUGH?

>> THIS IS SUCH AN INSIGHTFUL QUESTION, AND THE ANSWER IS PARTLY YES, BUT IT'S NOT ENOUGH, AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE SAYING, WHAT ELSE DO WE NEED TO DO? BECAUSE WE KNOW WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING MORE. WHERE IT'S PARTLY YES IS WE KNOW THAT CHILDREN WANT TO FEEL THEY'RE SUCCESSFUL. IF A CHILD STARTS TO FEEL EARLY ON IN SCHOOL THAT THEY ARE NOT SUCCESSFUL, THEY CHECK OUT REALLY QUICKLY, REALLY QUICKLY. LITTLE FRIGHTENING THAT BY THIRD GRADE A CHILD HAS FORMED A VIEW ABOUT WHETHER HE OR SHE IS GOING TO BE A SUCCESS OR A FAILURE. AND SO EARLY INTERVENTIONS AND SUPPORT SO THAT CHILDREN CAN FEEL LIKE A SUCCESS IN SCHOOL, IT HAS BENEFITS FAR BEYOND THEIR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, AND WE'VE SEEN THAT OVER AND OVER AND OVER WITH THIS WORK. SO HELPING THEM BE SUCCESSFUL IN SCHOOL, NOT BEING BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN CLASS SO THEY GET PULLED OUT AND THEY LOSE CONTENT, TIME WITH THEIR TEACHER BECAUSE OF A BEHAVIOR ISSUE, THAT HAS DRAMATICALLY FALLEN.

>> DOES THE GROUP INCLUDE THOSE THAT HAVE MISSED -- MAYBE MISSED THE MARK EARLY ON. YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO INTERVENE BUT WEREN'T DOING IT EARLY ENOUGH?

>> EXACTLY RIGHT. WE STARTED THIS PROGRAM, GOSH, EIGHT YEARS AGO, AND WE HAD SOME LIMITED SUCCESS, AND THEN WE SAID WAIT A MINUTE, WAIT A MINUTE, THIS IS A -- THIS IS WAY TOO LATE, BECAUSE WE WERE STARTING WITH KIDS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. YOU CAN'T HAVE THE KIND OF IMPACT YOU NEED TO HAVE IF YOU'RE STARTING AT MIDDLE SCHOOL. SO WE TOOK ALMOST A YEAR TO REDEVELOP THE PROGRAM STARTING AT KINDERGARTEN, AND THIS IS WHERE WE'RE SEEING BIGGER GAINS. SO NOW THE PART OF YOUR QUESTION THAT IS THE THIS IS NOT ENOUGH OF AN ANSWER IS WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT THERE ARE SOME KIDS WHO REALLY NEED MORE INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION. EVERY CHILD HAS SOMETHING THAT THEY CAN SHINE AT. EVERY SINGLE CHILD HAS AN INTEREST, BUT SOMETIMES THEY DON'T HAVE THE SUPPORT SYSTEM, THE RESOURCES TO REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT INTEREST. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE CAN BE A CHILD WHO JUST WANTS TO DO SOCCER OR SING OR PLAY FOOTBALL OR WHATEVER IT IS. OFTENTIMES LOW INCOME KIDS JUST DON'T HAVE THE RESOURCES. MAYBE THEY DON'T HAVE THE $40 FOR THE ENTRANCE FEE OR THEY DON'T HAVE THE EQUIPMENT MONEY, OR THEY DON'T HAVE TRANSPORTATION. SO WHAT WE'RE STARTING TO THINK IS CAN WE PLAY THAT ROLE FOR KIDS. IF WE KNOW THERE IS A CHILD WHO REALLY WANTS TO SING BUT CAN'T FIND THE SUPPORT OR THE RESOURCES TO TAKE SINGING LESSONS, CAN WE BE THAT SUPPORT FOR THAT CHILD.

>> ALL RIGHT. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND CONTINUE A DISCUSSION ABOUT THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB

>> WELCOME BACK. WE ARE FOCUSING ON THE CHILDREN IN THIS STATE. WE ARE JOINED BY MARY ALICE MCKENZIE, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB, AND DOTTIE IS THE EDUCATION DIRECTOR THERE.

>> WE KNOW YOU ARE INVOLVED, BUT IT'S REALLY A STATEWIDE NETWORK. TELL ME ABOUT HOW MANY KIDS YOU ARE SERVING AND THAT SORT OF THING.

>> SURE. WE ARE ONE OF SIX CLUBS AROUND THE STATE, SO IT IS VERY MUCH A NETWORK. EACH CLUB IS INDEPENDENT AND AUTONOMOUS, RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN CLUB, BUT WE COME TOGETHER ONCE A MONTH AS AN OO AN ALLIANCE OF CLUBS. WE SHARE INFORMATION. WE SHARE WORRIES AND CONCERNS. EVERY SINGLE CLUB IN THE STATE HAS SAID THAT THEY'RE SEEING WHAT WE'RE SEEING, SO YOU KNOW, WE'RE DEFINITELY NOT ALONE IN BURLINGTON. THESE ARE STATEWIDE ISSUES. SOMETIMES WE PILOT IDEAS AND THEN OTHER CLUBS WILL JOIN IN. WE HOPE THAT THIS DEEP PROGRAMMING WORK THAT WE FORMULATE WILL SERVE AS A PILOT THAT THE OTHER CLUBS WILL CONSIDER TAKING A LOOK AT. ALTOGETHER, THERE ARE ABOUT 12,000 KIDS IN THE STATE OF VERMONT THAT WALK THROUGH OUR DOORS EVERY YEAR. IN BURLINGTON, WE SERVE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS 1200 INDIVIDUAL KIDS. SO ALTOGETHER WITH ALL THE CLUBS, WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF KIDS.

>> SEEING A LOT OF KIDS, DOTTIE, BUT CERTAINLY SEEING A LOT OF MENTORS AS WELL. WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE CLUB, YOU CAN KIND OF PICK THEM OUT, BUT SOME ARE A FEW FEET TALLER THAN THE MEMBERS. TALK ABOUT THE MENTORS. WHO IS INVOLVED AND THAT SORT OF THING?

>> WE HAVE A LOT OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS THAT HAVE WALKED THROUGH THE DOORS, MAYBE STARTING AND VOLUNTEERING IN THE CLUB AND THEN HAVE REALLY CONNECTED WITH ONE KID OR ANOTHER AND HAVE WANTED TO BECOME A MENTOR, AND WE HAVE JUST RECONSTRUCTED OUR MENTOR PROGRAM WHERE WE'VE EMBED ADD READING BUDDY PROGRAM. SO ALL MENTORS MEET WITH THEIR MEANTEES ONCE A WEEBS, AND -- WEEK. AND ONE WEEK THEY WILL MEET AND READ FOR A HALF AN HOUR, AND THE FOLLOWING WEEK, THEY GET TO MEET OUTSIDE OF THE CLUB AND DO A FUN ACTIVITY WITH THEIR MENTOR. IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR OUR KIDS, BECAUSE THEY -- YOU KNOW, IT REALLY MAKES THEM FEEL SPECIAL, AND THEY HAVE SOMEONE ELSE, YOU KNOW, ANOTHER GREAT ROLE MODEL TO LOOK UP TO.

>> AND WE'VE SEEN SUCH A BIG-ISH CROSS VERMONT. SOME OF THE MENTORS ARE RELIVING A PIECE OF THEIR CHILDHOOD AND HELPING AT THE SAME TIME.

>> WE'VE SPENT A LOT OF TIME TALKING ABOUT AN ISSUE YOU BROUGHT UP THAT GOT A LOT OF SUPPORT AND THE COMMUNITY VERY INTERESTED, THAT WORD GANG. WHAT WHAT ELSE ARE YOU SEEING, SOMETHING THAT YOU WANT TO TACKLE OR A CHALLENGE ON THE HORIZON FOR KIDS?

>> THE BIG THING WE'RE SEEING IS THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN VERMONT EDUCATIONALLY. THAT'S WHY WE JUST LAUNCHED SO HEAVILY INTO TRYING TO HELP KIDS BE SUCCESSFUL.

>> WHEN YOU SAY ACHIEVEMENT GAP, THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP EXISTS BECAUSE OF MONEY OR BECAUSE OF RACE OR BECAUSE OF WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

>> IT'S AN INCOME DIVIDE. CHILDREN FROM FAMILIES WITH MORE FINANCIAL RESOURCES DO BETTER IN SCHOOL THAN CHILDREN WHO HAVE LITTLE TO NO RESOURCES. MANY REASONS WHY THAT EXIST, BUT THE FACT IS IT DOES EXIT. OWE HE -- IT DOES EXIST. GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE MAJORITY OF CHILDREN THAT ARE BOYS AND GIRLS MEMBERS, THEY ARE FROM LOW INCOME FAMILIES, AND THIS IS A SPECIAL UNIQUE ROLE WE CAN PLAY. OUR GOAL IS TO CLOSE THAT GAP, NOT JUST TO CLOSE THE GAP BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO, BUT THAT'S THE WAY WE'RE GOING TO HELP KIDS BE SET UP IN A WAY THEY CAN ACHIEVE. SO THEY CAN GO TO COLLEGE OR INTO A GOOD TRAINING PROGRAM. THEY CAN HAVE A JOB. THEY CAN SUPPORT THEMSELVES. SO THIS IS OUR WAY OF SAYING WE CAN BEND THE POVERTY CURVE IN OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH EDUCATION. SO WE TALK A LOT -- WE'RE LOOKING AT THE STATISTICS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION COLLECTS EVERY YEAR THAT IS BY EACH SCHOOL, BY VARIOUS DEMOGRAPHICS, AND IT'S OUR EXPECTATION THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION IN BURLINGTON FOR KIDS.

>> WE'VE SEEN A COUPLE OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS ACROSS VERMONT IN AN EFFORT TO CLOSE THAT GAP THAT HAS CONSIDERED A YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL CYCLE WITH SOME BREAKS IN BETWEEN. CAN THAT BE COMPATIBLE WITH WHAT YOU FOLKS ARE DOING? IS THAT A POSITIVE THING OR A NEGATIVE?

>> I THINK IT WOULD BE A POSITIVE. I THINK THERE'S BEEN TALK ABOUT IT. THERE'S A NEW CLEN -- CALENDAR CALLED THE VISION CALENDAR, BUT THAT DOESN'T REALLY DO WHAT YOU'VE JUST MENTIONED. IT'S THE SAME NUMBER OF TEACHING DAYS. IT DOES SHORTEN VACATIONS. IT KIND OF SPREADS OUT THE VACATION DAYS IN A DIFFERENT WAY. I GUESS I'M NEUTRAL ABOUT THAT. I THINK IN GENERAL, IF WE COULD FIGURE OUT A WAY TO HAVE MORE INSTRUCTION TIME, I THINK THAT WOULD BE GOOD FOR KIDS IN TODAY'S WORLD, NOT TO SAY THAT TIME OFF AND PLAY AND ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES ARE NOT IMPORTANT. THEY'RE REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT, BUT A LOT OF THE KIDS THAT WE ARE WORKING WITH -- GOOD TEACHERS MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD TO THEM.

>> BUT GIVEN THE MODEL THAT HAS BEEN PROPOSED WITH SOME OF THE LARGER BREAKS IN BETWEEN AND SMALLER BREAKS OVER THE SUMMER, CAN YOU ENVISION YOURSELF PROGRAMMING WITHIN THOSE PERIODS OF TIME?

>> WE CAN. IT MAY BE A LITTLE BIT TRICKY, BUT I THINK OVERALL, IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO OUR KIDS.

>> THIS IDEA THAT SOME KIDS NEED THE EXTRA SUPPORT, HELPING THEM SUCCEED, HELPING THEM RISE ABOVE POVERTY. IS SOME OF THIS A ROLE THAT THE PARENTS AREN'T REALLY TAKING ON IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS THEN?

>> I DON'T THINK THAT. THAT'S NOT THE WAY WE VIEW IT. IT ISN'T THAT PARENTS --.

>> BECAUSE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU SAID, AS A PARENT, A PARENT SHOULD BE MAKING SURE THEY DO THEIR HOMEWORK.

>> SURE. WELL, WE'RE LUCKY. I CONSIDER MYSELF FORTUNATE. I THINK DOTTIE CONSIDERS HERSELF FORTUNATE THAT WE HAVE THE WHEREWITHAL TO DO THAT, TO DO THAT SUPPORT FOR OUR CHILDREN. REALLY, YOU'RE RIGHT, AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE LOOK AT IT AND SAY, IF MY CHILD WAS NOT READING ON GRADE LEVEL, I WOULD FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET RESOURCES TO GET HIM OR HER ON GRADE LEVEL. THAT'S BECAUSE I KNOW HOW TO GET RESOURCES. I HAVE RESOURCES. A LOT OF PARENTS DON'T HAVE RESOURCES. AND SO ARE WE GOING TO SAY, WELL, THE PARENTS CAN'T BRING THE RESOURCES IN, SO TOO BAD FOR THEIR CHILDREN? THAT'S NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR US. I THINK -- I HAVEN'T RUN INTO A PARENT WHO DOESN'T LOVE THEIR CHILD, BUT SOMETIMES IT TAKES MORE THAN LOVE, AND WE CAN BE A RESOURCE.

>> YOU'RE NODDING.

>> I MEAN, I AGREE. WE ALSO -- WE UNDERSTAND THAT MOST OF OUR FAMILIES, THERE'S MULTIPLE KIDS IN THE FAMILY, AND THE PARENTS ARE BUSY WORKING AND SO IT'S A LONG DAY. SO IF WE HAVE THEM AFTER SCHOOL AND WE ALSO HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SCHOOL, THEN WE CAN HELP KIND OF TAKE THAT ISSUE AWAY FROM THE PARENT, HELP THEM GET THEIR HOMEWORK DONE AND MAKE SURE THEY'RE PREPARED OR SET UP A TUTORING SESSION WHILE THEY'RE IN OUR BUILDING.

>> WHAT ARE YOU SEEING AS FAR AS NUMBERS? YOU MENTIONED ABOUT 1200 KIDS COME THROUGH BURLINGTON'S DOOR THAT GO TO BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS. WHAT ARE WE SEEING WITH THOSE NUMBERS, UP, DOWN, STEADY?

>> I THINK STATEWIDE THEY'RE STEADY. BURLINGTON'S NUMBERS ARE UP. WE LOOK AT NUMBERS BOTH ON AN ANNUAL BASIS BUT ALSO ON AN AVERAGE DAILY BASIS, AND THE NUMBER OF THE DAILY ATTENDEES IN BURLINGTON HAS GONE UP. AND WE EXPECT THAT TO CONTINUE.

>> SO WHAT'S A TAKEAWAY HERE FOR FOLKS AT HOME WHO MAY BE WATCHING BUT MAY NOT HAVE A CHILD WHO A MEMBER OF THE CLUB OR GRANDCHILD WHO IS A MEMBER? WHAT SHOULD THEY KNOW? HOW CAN THEY HELP IF THEY MAY NOT BE CONNECTED TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING?

>> WELL, WE ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT CHARITY. SO IF SOMEONE CARES ABOUT OUR ISSUES AND THEY WISH TO SUPPORT US, WE CERTAINLY WELCOME FINANCIAL SUPPORT. IF THEY WANT THEIR CHILD TO HAVE A WONDERFUL COMMUNITY SERVICE EXPERIENCE, WE HAVE A REALLY PHENOMENAL PROGRAM, AND SO THEY CAN VOLUNTEER. THEY CAN SEND THEIR OWN CHILD OUR WAY. THEY CAN JUST SUPPORT OUR MISSION.

>> AND THE MAIN MISSION OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB IS?

>> TO SUPPORT ALL CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO NEED US MOST.

>> ALL RIGHT. I THANK YOU BOTH FOR THE CONVERSATION. DOTTIE YOU ARE THE DIRECTOR OF THE BOYS AND CLUB, AND MARY ALICE MCKENZIE, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. I THANK YOU FOR JOINING IN THE QUESTIONING. AS YOU HEARD, IF YOU WANT TO REACH THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS IN ANY OF THE REGION WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, I'M SURE THEY WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. THANK YOU AT HOME FOR WATCHING. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY. TAKE CARE. Captioning provided by Caption Associates, LLC www.captionassociates.com

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