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Heading to the club … virtually


Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

That’s the motto at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Newark Ironbound in New Jersey. With kids out of school and parents working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, the club found a way to offer tutoring and other programming via Facebook Live. This week, classes also started on Zoom.

“We love our kids and the kids need us, especially during times like this,” says Nemin Jaya, the club’s director of administration. “We’ve had parents call the club and say, ‘When are you guys open?’ This allows us to be present and say, ‘Hey, we love you guys and we care about you and here are the things we’re doing for you.’”

Jaya said the digital engagements, such as views and likes, are an astonishing 2,000 per day.

“That’s a pleasant surprise and great to see,” he said. “They’ve got a schedule they follow and there are multiple posts a day.”

On a regular day when the club is open, kids get homework help, tutoring, and other programming related to emotional health, character, citizenship, and academic success.

“The idea is that we continue to give them that experience, but virtually,” Jaya said. There’s a teacher and the kids log in live. They’re looking at each other and talking to each other. These activities create a feeling of normalcy.

Captain Jonathan Jackson, the area coordinator for Newark Area Services, said, the “family element is really strong” at the club and this is The Salvation Army’s latest attempt to help.

“For years, that’s how the community has known our club,” Jackson said. “A lot of the parents have also come through here . Many have grown up at the club. We have an excellent track record as far as the family unit goes.”

By Robert Mitchell