Thin kitchen at Boys & Girls Club
Myesha Choice, 17, left, and Tina Arnds, 23, prepare bowls of cereal for youth who participate in programs at the Glendale Boys & Girls Club. Choice is an Apollo High School graduate who now attends Glendale Community College. Arnds is serving her internship in social services. (Photo by Carolyn Dryer)

Since 1962, the youth development program at the Glendale Boys & Girls Club has been teaching kids about a better way of life. This year, the facility at Northview and 59th avenues is setting a record for attendance. Last year, there were 80 kids enrolled for the summer programs. This year, there are 130.

Last year, the average attendance was 60, and that number is now 95. For the after-school program, 125 kids are registered, compared to just 100 the previous year. In the soccer program alone, 150 have signed up.

"These are the highest numbers in eight years," Joe Torrez, GB&GC executive director, said. "We're looking at 150 to 175 after school (in the fall)."

With the addition of the computer lab, the club may offer offsite education programs, targeting teens to teach them Web site development, CAD training, office/Excell layouts and resume writing. An information technology professional from Glendale is helping the club develop its computer programs.

Along with those numbers comes an increased demand for food. One of the most essential activities of the day is ensuring kids have food in their stomachs.

With increased numbers, Torrez said, his staff is pushing the limits of the kitchen. More than 90 kids are fed breakfast and lunch from an area measuring 11 by 17 feet.

Torrez is hoping for a major overhaul of the kitchen that would include cooking surfaces for the preparation of real food, not just food that is popped into the microwave.

Ken Renteria, an activity coordinator at the facility, said, "Right now, all we're serving is food already cooked: burritos, hot dogs, pizza. Having a kitchen, we could feed these kids good."

The Glendale Rotary Club has adopted the kitchen renovation as its Centennial project to commemorate the 100th birthday of Rotary International. In July 2005, all Rotary clubs throughout the world will celebrate with similar Centennial projects.

To learn more about the local Boys & Girls Club, call Torrez at (623) 939-6952.