Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

RED BANK: CLUB OFFERS KIDS A HAVEN

Children line up for pre-dinner clean-hands inspection at the Boys and Girls Club. (Photos by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

After five p.m. on a recent afternoon, a pair of children in red shirts and khakis set a long table with styrofoam plates laden with tacos. Moments later, a dozen or so kids dressed in the same outfits – the uniform of the Red Bank Primary School – line up for inspection by Natasha Cargill, a teenaged kitchen manager.

It’s clean-hands time at at the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County‘s Red Bank unit, a scene that plays out so routinely that some of the kids continue to absently hold their hands above their heads long after they’ve passed Cargill’s inspection.

Looking on, Christy Crank looks pleased. As the facility director, the 38-year-old borough native sets a welcoming but firm tone for all who step through its doors.

“I see a lot of me in these kids,” says Crank. “When I was growing up, we didn’t have a Boys and Girls Club. We provide a safe space, where there’s no bullying, you get the help you need, and everyone is equal.”

Along with three other staffers – an art director, a computer director and a teen coordinator – plus four junior counselors, Crank runs an after-school program for 129 Red Bank kids ages 6 to 18, though on an average day she sees about 40 kids, mostly between 8 and 10 years-old.

Kids are bused from the primary school or walk on their own to the building at the northwest corner of Bridge Avenue and Drs.  James Parker Boulevard.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights are teen nights. “Our teen population varies according to the high school sports schedule,” Crank said.

A typical afternoon means a “power hour” of homework and studies, followed by participation in one of the the club’s programs – in graphic arts, the nuts and bolts of computer repair, or some kind of outdoor activity. The kids have dinner before they go home at six.

The club also has a College-Bound program, which provides mentoring starting with high-school freshman as well as workshops, college tours and roughly $14,000 yearly in scholarships.

For the summer, the club is partnering with borough schools to provide a full day of activities – including an educational component – from July 1 through August 23.

In fact, the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County has been selected by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to pilot “Brain Gain,” a hands-on program designed to maintain academic levels over the summer by focusing on areas such as nutrition, science, history, and literature.

And there have been lots of special activities over the course of the year. In February, 30 or so of the kids had a show at Gallery U, catered by the Melting Pot and Lunch Break.

“It was a wonderful experience for the kids,” Crank said. “Artwork they created was professionally displayed. They got dressed up and brought their families.”

In March, a group of 10 teenage girls from the club attended a private screening of the documentary “Girl Rising” at Monmouth Mall, and were so moved by the depiction of girls struggling for basic education around the world that they wrote letters and sent bookbags and school supplies to girls in Haiti.

Just the other week, the kids who did well in the club’s points system –  based on behavior and grades – got to build their own bikes with race car drivers from Raceway Park in Englishtown. After building them, they got to ride them around the park before the races, an event which was televised on ESPN, Crank said.

“Ms. Christy, my stomach is going boom-boom-boom,” Crank recalled one child telling her as they went out in front of the crowd. “I love to hear them say, ‘I never had this experience before.’ It means I’m accomplishing things.”

To cover costs, all fundraising is done privately, said BGMC executive director Doug Eagles, who oversees operations at both the Asbury Park and Red Bank locations.

With an annual budget of about $1 million, the club and summer camp fees make up about 10 of expenses, while the rest comes from grants and fundraising events, including having a team in the New Jersey Marathon.

The College Bound scholarships are funded by the Melvin R. Goodes Family Foundation.

There is a golf outing at the end of July, and the BGCMC is encouraging supporters to raise funds at get-togethers this summer, in a Summer of 100 Parties campaign.

And community support comes in all forms: in July the Red Bank Kiwanis Club will be painting and installing bookshelves.

The Red Bank unit also has an advisory council, made up of community members and one elected official.

“They help us stay rooted in the community,” said Eagles. “We get the feedback we need to know how well we’re doing our jobs.”

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
RHAPSODY ON ICE
RED BANK: On a cool-ish summer evening, keyboardist NGXB entertained customers of Strollo's Italian Ice with renderings of 'Bohemian Rhapsod ...
PUDDLE BE GONE
A work crew was out this week attacking the site of the notoriously persistent puddle at the corner of Broad and Mechanic Streets. This phot ...
SMALLS FOR MAYOR?
We at redbankgreen remain neutral in political affairs and never make endorsements. But we have to say Borough Clerk Laura Reinertsen’ ...
CRASH ON LEIGHTON
The driver of this car was headed north on Leighton Avenue when they it hit an SUV pulling a work trailer headed in south in the opposing la ...
CAR VS STREET SIGN
The driver of this Mercedes hopped the curb and toppled the street sign at the corner of South Pearl and Drs. James Parker Boulevard Wednesd ...
SKETCHES OF RED BANK BY LOCAL ARTIST MICHAEL WHITE
Sketches of Red Bank scenes have been floating around on social media and we thought they deserved some spotlight. First appearing in our fe ...
POLE DOWN
Utility pole falls on English Plaza shop Forge after being struck by SUV shortly before noon. No injuries reported, though 86-year-old drive ...
YO, ADRIAN!
It’s a tough turn for our hero as Rocky Balboa is relegated to the curb for trash pickup on Locust Avenue. We’ll have to go back ...
“EL PALOMO” IS IN THE HOUSE
Jesus Rios, a mariachi singer who performs under the stage name “El Palomo” (The dove) pauses for a moment before entering a bac ...
CROC SPOTTED IN RIVER
Frighteningly hideous and green, a solitary Croc lurked ominously amid the flotsam and foam in the Navesink River alongside the Red Bank Fir ...
KISS ICON REFLECTS ON BROADWALK
A Swarovski crystal-bedazzled self-portrait painting of Paul Stanley, longtime singer and guitarist for the rock band Kiss peers out from a ...
CHISELIN’ AWAY
Marcelo Garcia Lopez works with hammer and chisel on a new feature for his flower garden on Shrewsbury Avenue: a hollow in a carved log in w ...
STORM CLEANUP CONTINUES
  Saturday’s storm sent a tree toppling on this house on Bank Street, damaging the roof. Workers Wednesday could be seen removing ...
SNAPPING IN THE BREEZE
RED BANK: Blustery winds had the flags in Riverside Gardens Park snapping Monday evening.
POWER LINE DOWN
Red Bank firefighters were on scene at Manor Drive dealing with a live power line Monday afternoon. There was no immediate report of fire. T ...
TAR BEACH SOLSTICE
Aldo Quiroz of Ocean Township came ready with his beach chair and found a shady spot to spend his lunch hour in a parking lot off Broad Stre ...
GOING GREY
Workers painting the stone facade of the PNC Bank at the corner of Broad and Harding Thursday morning. An upgrade? Maybe it’s just pri ...
COFFEE & WILDLIFE
RED BANK: The best wildlife show in town can be taken in from a waterfront bench outside the public library, and it's totally free.
FAWNING OVER HER BABY
A mother deer and her fawn were spotted between a row of garages on Hudson Avenue and some trees alongside the Broad Street parking lots. Re ...
EVENING ESCAPE
RED BANK: Sailors in Monmouth Boat Club's weekly racing series found tranquil conditions on the Navesink River Tuesday evening.