Club CEO Marks 1 Year Amidst Pandemic
April 2020 marked the official one year anniversary of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan County CEO Christina Singh. She was recently asked, “If you knew of the oncoming global pandemic, would you have still signed on?”Her response? “Yes! I pursued this role to make a difference in the lives of Sheboygan County kids. That’s become more important now than ever. Given the choice, there’s no community I’d rather serve.”
Christina acknowledges the organization’s foundation was built by the hardworking staff, volunteers and board leaders before her. But she says none of it would exist without community support. “Boys & Girls Clubs is part of our neighborhood fabric. For over 25 years, individuals and corporations have stepped up to make sure our services remain available to kids and families. I’m incredibly grateful to lead an organization that has the support of a strong, resilient community.”
In times of crisis, especially those that occur early in a leader’s tenure, one can easily be diverted from mission work. According to Singh, this is the time to be hyper-focused on their true purpose. “There is one question that guides my decision making, big or small: ‘what is best for our kids?’ Right now, they need to be fed, they need strong connections to positive adult role models, they need emotional support, they need resources and help to navigate the requirements of remote learning.” To address these challenges, the Club’s services have quickly pivoted. They now deliver meals and grocery store gift cards. The organization has also created Club on the Go, a virtual version of Club programming complete with activity supplies dropped off at home.
But Singh says there’s something else community youth need. “Most importantly, Club kids need us to be around when this is all over. As things slowly begin to shift again – toward regrouping and reassembling jobs, school, and everyday life – our kids need us there. Our responsibility is to be agile yet indelible.”
Prior to COVID19, roughly 60% of families in the Sheboygan School District qualified for free or reduced lunch. Sheboygan’s rate of ALICE households (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) was higher than the state average. Families who were previously in tight situations are now thrust fully into poverty. In addition to hunger, children in income-challenged households face an elevated risk for adverse educational outcomes. As the community emerges from this hardship, Singh expects more families will need their services.
“I’m fully confident that our community will rise to the challenge; that we will lift one another in whatever ways we can. The Boys & Girls Club is an essential part of this dynamic, serving those who need us most by the generosity of those who give.”
Although it may not be the one year anniversary Singh expected, she says it is her honor to advocate for vulnerable children, serve a remarkable team of youth development professionals and to contribute to a spirited, resolute community. And she looks forward to rebuilding and healing together in the years to come.