Jaylen, 12, is a Boys & Girls Club member, his mom Ashley is an alumna and his grandma, Lisa, has worked at the Club for 20+ years. Learn how this family is deeply rooted in their Club – and how the Club brings safety, fun, a deep respect for inclusion, and unwavering support to three generations.
My favorite thing about my Boys & Girls Club is how they support every kid no matter what.
Like if a kid needs a meal, or time to do their homework. If someone has special needs. They do all that. Plus, basketball. (I love sports.)
For me, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy is my family. And they actually are my family – my grandma works here. When my mom was a kid, she was a Club member here, too. My uncle works at the same Club, and my aunt works at a different Club. We are a Boys & Girls Club family and I’ve been coming here since I was a baby.
Sports are my favorite thing about the Club; I’m always smiling when I’m playing sports. I’m an only child, but at my Club I have so many kids to play with and I’m always practicing my skills on the basketball court. And lately I’ve started volunteering as a coach.
We have an inclusion sports team for kids with disabilities to play basketball. There are about 20 kids playing on our inclusion team, and some adults who were Club members once and keep coming back, because the Club and this team is so special to them. I love seeing them have fun and enjoying basketball. They get to be themselves. Being their coach is one of my favorite things.
Being around people who have different abilities, I see how our Club makes them feel welcome and included. The most important thing I’ve learned at my Club is to provide for everybody and not be stingy. Help everybody around you, no matter who they are. Because you never know what someone is going through.
That goes for our family, too. The Club also really helps my mom. She has lupus and has to go to the doctor lot, and the Club always steps up to support our family.
They are here for us and because of this, I’ve learned how important it is to be there for others.
When my family moved to Tracy, my mom found a job at the Boys & Girls Club. Which means I became a Club member at age 10. I never guessed how much the Club would come to mean to our family.
To be honest with you, I think the Club taught me how to just be a human being. They made me who I am. It was my first job, my first everything. They just taught me all of the skills and things that I know.
The Club adapted with me as I grew up, and now I’m a mom sending my son there. It is truly a family. My mom still works here – and she’s really passionate about the disability inclusion program she leads at the Club, which Jay volunteers with. (She also volunteered us to do this story… thanks, Mom!)
Whenever we've run across hard times in our life, we know we can lean on everybody at the Club and have their support. It never even has to be asked. They are here for us.
This is especially important because I have lupus and I’m a single mom.
Even if I wasn’t a Club kid myself and didn’t have that personal connection, I can attest to the support the Club provides for parents. When I was ill or didn’t have the energy, the Club would make sure my son had the homework help he needed or that he was having fun playing basketball. In many ways, it was like the Club was my co-parent – I had someone to lean on when I needed it most. I knew Jay was safe and had something to eat and someone to ask how his day was.
When I have a lot of worries, thanks to the Club, Jay’s safety and wellbeing is not one of them.
People sometimes ask me about being resilient – that’s a question you get when you have an autoimmune disease. But “resilience” applies to all of us in some way… these kids with disabilities having a blast on the court, parents juggling the needs of the day, all of us getting through this pandemic.
What I’ve learned about resilience is that sometimes you can do more than you think you can for people.
Sometimes it's just a conversation or a smile or a hug; even a high five or “good job!” can make all the difference. I’ve also that that there are always good people out there and a community to support you.
Boys & Clubs provide inclusive and safe places, caring mentors and life-enhancing programs that boost youth self-esteem, build confidence and contribute to overall positive and healthy wellbeing. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest resources and stories from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.