11-year-old Ferdinand has been going to the Boys and Girls Club for over two years. He enjoys the dodgeball, the friends and the opportunity to get out of the house. He calls the club his second home. To Erika Peterson, the CEO of the club, the phrase “second home” means the world to her.
Peterson has been involved in the Boys and Girls Club for over four years, helping kids to succeed both in their academic and personal lives. In the summers and when school finishes for the day, many kids opt to come over to the facility to eat a meal, play games and do homework. The club is open to boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 18, the only requirement being that they are able to function within the club’s environment.
At the not-for-profit Boys and Girls Club of Story County, a small team of staff and volunteers are working to leave an impression on kids in the community. In order to continue this, they work hard every year to raise enough money to sustain their work. This year, they are counting on the students at Iowa State to help them.
“Our focus is youth development programs, so really helping them to be successful [in academics] and healthy lifestyles and then with character and association development,” Peterson said.
Every day, there is a “power hour” that consists of 30 minutes of homework or reading and then interactive learning games. When kids are not in “power hour,” they can be found playing dodgeball in the gym, practicing taekwondo or even learning how to 3-D print objects and code.
The club is also extremely diverse, having one of the most diverse groups of children by concentration in the county, said Peterson. Currently the club serves between 100 to 150 kids each day, a drastic increase from the past several years.
“In November 2014, that month we averaged 67 kids a day. In November 2016 we averaged 110 kids a day, so in a two-year time period we almost doubled,” Peterson said. Throughout the year, as many as 200 volunteers participate with the club, many of them Iowa State students.
Providing all these services year-long leaves a substantial financial burden on the club. It costs $1,000 per year per child to provide all the services for the Boys and Girls Club. The kids themselves only have to pay a $75 per year to receive all the meals, field trips and other benefits. The United Way of Story County, Story County, the City of Ames and the Iowa State Student Government help by covering $212,000 out of the $540,000 budget, but the rest is for the club to raise themselves.
In order to do this, they turn to fundraisers. The club has a successful gala and silent auction, but for their second fundraising event this year they wanted to do something unique.
“We wanted to do something different – everybody does a 5k, everybody does a golf tournament, a bike race,” Peterson said. Late last year, they came up with a solution. Andrew Murdoch, a board member of the club, suggested that they utilize the expertise of a professional adventuring company to rappel down a building in Campustown.
Over The Edge is a rappelling company based out of Canada that works with non-profit organizations to help raise money. The company has the highest rappelling certification possible and in the past 13 years has sent 45,000 people down 267 different buildings. Those who raise a minimum of $1,000 can choose a person to rappel down The Edge apartment building in Campustown. However, Iowa State students, clubs and organizations only need to raise $500. Donations must be in by Oct. 24 in order to secure a time slot to rappel. The event will take place 9 a.m. to 5 pm, Oct. 27, weather permitting.
“If they can’t mitigate any possible risk, they won’t do it,” Peterson said. “So the fact that they have said yes is because they feel completely confident that they can do it at extremely low risk.”
Iowa State is doing an all-campus homecoming competition for the first time this year. By registering and participating in events such as Over the Edge, groups within the three categories will receive homecoming points. The top three groups in each category with the most points will receive awards and recognition at the Homecoming Awards Ceremony on Oct. 27. Greek chapters will not receive any homecoming points from this, but will be eligible for internal chapter community points. There are currently about 70 slots available for organizations to participate in Over the Edge and they will fill on a first-come-first serve basis.
The event is also open to those who haven’t raised the money required to rappel. Zap laser tag will be donating all of the proceeds that it generates and Ames Ford Lincoln will be giving out test drives of cars, with each test drive generating $20 up to a max of $6,000 total for the club. There will also be food trucks if people want a bite to eat.
“We have every confidence that the Iowa State students can rock it out for the kids in the community,” Peterson said.
The goal for the Over the Edge event is to reach $100,000. They have already raised just over $20,000 and DrainTech announced that they will match every donation dollar for dollar, up to $30,000.
“To be a good leader, a good citizen of your community, you want to give back to the community when you can," Murdoch said. "And this is an unbelievable opportunity to give back to the kids."