The Jacobs Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of the Ocoee Region is rapidly growing, much like the other 13 units spread across four counties; however, the close proximity of the Jacobs Unit to Clingan …
The Jacobs Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of the Ocoee Region is rapidly growing, much like the other 13 units spread across four counties; however, the close proximity of the Jacobs Unit to Clingan Ridge Baptist Church is having a massive effect on the attendance numbers of both organizations.
Jacobs Unit director Denyse Debusk said she’s been working closely with Clingan Ridge children’s director Sarah Brandenburg to foster their symbiosis.
“We actually have several kids from different units who come to church here. The first day of summer we had 42,” Debusk said.
The Jacobs Unit has existed for 2.5 years, and Debusk said people are learning it’s here.
Brandenburg has worked with CRBC since November 2018, and has seen a massive influx of kids — nearly 100 — at church.
“We work closely together, that way we can coordinate ideas and plans rather than operate as two separate entities,” Brandenburg said.
The BGCOR normally meets Monday through Friday until 7 p.m., except on Wednesdays, when they dismiss at 5:30 p.m. to attend church at CRBC.
Children whose parents attend a separate church are welcome to pick up their kids to attend their own church, but Debusk stressed everyone is welcome to attend services.
Throughout the school year, kids meet at 3 p.m., but during the summer, that time is 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Starting with only seven kids two years ago, the Jacobs Unit grew every day. Debusk said six of the original seven still attend.
Having children attend church regularly is also having a positive effect on parents as well, with Brandenburg reporting numerous parents beginning to attend church each week because their kids do.
“In VBS this year, the majority of people volunteering are new faces, because their children have been coming so they’ve been getting more involved here,” Brandenburg added.
“We’ve also been seeing a lot of parents getting saved, because these kids are teaching them what they’ve learned.”
Since CRBC has extended its bus ministry, more and more kids are coming each week to service, who are then encouraged to join the Jacobs Unit.
Last year also marked the first time the Jacobs Unit combined its Christmas party with CRBC’s Children’s Ministry, and attracted over 150 kids as a result.
In working with the children, Debusk said they see all manner of needs, including kids who never want for anything as well as kids who are unsure of where their next meal will come.
One issue that’s become highly prevalent is the need for clothing. That’s why the Jacobs Unit is partnering with CRBC to put together a clothing closet, featuring clothing sold at cheap prices for adults and children who need shirts, pants and jackets at a very affordable rate.
Both women were accumulating jackets this winter to give to their kids, and decided combining their efforts in a community-wide program would benefit everyone far more.
“Parents who’ll come to our closet to get stuff for their kids will feel more dignified and like they’ve worked hard to get their children something,” Brandenburg said. “We don’t want any of them to go without.”
Debusk is considering having the teenage workers at the Jacobs Unit operate the clothing closet, as it teaches them marketing, financial responsibility and goal-setting, as well as hard work ethic.
BGCOR staff work on curriculums for each week to ensure that summer at the Jacobs Unit is simply an extension of the school year, so educational programs are still maintained year-round, including games revolving around math, social studies, etc.
Contrary to normal schools, however, BGCOR conducts “feature classes,” where they teach kids practical life skills that aren’t often taught in school such as how to write a check, what a savings account is and how to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
Girls and boys are also taught how to act appropriately and have respect for themselves, as well as the opposite sex.
Debusk said a common misconception about the BGCOR is it’s only available for those below a certain income level. In reality, income only affects the weekly fee parents pay.
“We’ve had some people not even apply to come here because they think they make just a bit more than we’ll accept. That’s simply not true,” Debusk stressed.
Before Brandenburg started in her current role at CRBC, she was offering her students at Lee University the chance to volunteer at the Jacobs Unit, which Debusk said was greatly appreciated.
With a team of four, the Jacobs Unit is always seeking more volunteers, and encourages anyone interested in working with kids and making a difference to come talk to them about being a dependable volunteer in the future.
“We’ll take as many kids as we can get, because we want as many kids to hear about Christ as we can. God has really provided for Clingan Ridge and the Jacobs Unit because we’ve kept Him at the center of it all,” Brandenburg said.
“We take care of kids, yes, but we offer so much more here. It’s so amazing to see the positive changes in kids after coming here,” Debusk added.
For more information or to volunteer, check out the BGCOR’s Facebook page or website https://www.bgcocoee.org.
The church’s children’s ministry information can be found at its Facebook page “Clingan Ridge Kids’ Ministry” or by going to www.clinganridgebaptist.org.
The Jacobs Unit is located beside CRBC at 2412 Georgetown Road.
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