Banner Lake Community Center reopens, Club receives $61K in critical funding to support students and combat summer slide
When a community comes together to help those in need the impact can be life-changing. In Banner Lake, a historic and underserved neighborhood in Hobe Sound, the generosity and investment from many diverse supporters is helping this community bloom.
In 2015, the Banner Lake Club, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of life for residents in the area, recognized that they had outgrown their aging facility which had been a vibrant fixture in the heart of the community since the 1930s. The Club embarked on a capital campaign and through the generosity of many private donations and local funding partners including the Hobe Sound Community Chest, Loblolly Foundation and Christ Memorial Church, monies were raised and a new building was constructed so the Club’s many education and enrichment programs and services could be expanded.
Since transitioning into the new Banner Lake Community Center in the fall of 2019, the Banner Lake Club expanded its youth programs to include an Academy for children from kindergarten through third grade. The program nurtures children in a safe environment with a small student-to-teacher ratio, providing an optimal learning environment upon which to build a strong educational foundation. There is no cost to attend the Academy and demand for the program continues to grow. What started with 21 students from kindergarten and first grade is expected to have 34 students and include second grade in the next school year.
Additionally, the number of students has increased about 30 percent in the Banner Lake After School Time (BLAST) program. BLAST provides youth, ages 5 through 18, with free after school and summer programming including homework assistance, arts and crafts, music, physical fitness and health and wellness activities and services.
Unfortunately, just as they were settling into the new building, Banner Lake had to temporarily close its doors in late March due to COVID-19. During the shutdown they were able to continue assisting the community through distribution of hot, nutritious meals as well as personal protection equipment, toiletries, and other essential supplies. The Banner Lake Community Center also served as a coronavirus testing site.
“With summer quickly approaching, we had many conversations during the shutdown about how to safely reopen and continue our critical work serving our community – especially our youth,” explained Wendy Reynoso, Executive Director of the Banner Lake Club.
“Thanks to a generous $61,000 grant from long-time funding partner, the Children’s Service Council of Martin County, Banner Lake is able to offer a supplemental BLAST summer program for nine weeks. The program will help prevent ‘Summer Slide’ which is the loss of academic skills and knowledge over a long break. Funds are being used to hire more teachers, program staff and a mental health specialist to address any mental health issues students may be experiencing,” added Reynoso.
Just in time for summer, the Banner Lake Community Center successfully reopened its doors on June 1, adhering to CDC and Florida’s Phase Two health and safety guidelines.
“The new Banner Lake Community Center, Student Academy and BLAST programs are really game changers, leveling the playing field for local youth and providing more opportunities for those living in and around the community to receive greater access to education, health and other services that will have lasting benefits,” said Missy Crisp, Banner Lake Club Board Member, Chair of the Community Center Campaign and long-time philanthropist.
“There are so many volunteers and private donors who have quietly supported the mission of Banner Lake over the years. It’s truly heartwarming to see the Community Center become a reality and have such a transformative effect on the children and families in and around the Banner Lake community,” added Crisp.
About Banner Lake Club, Inc.
The Banner Lake Club (BLC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Hobe Sound residents, primarily those in need in the Banner Lake Community. Housed in a new Community Center completed in September 2019, BLC provides community and educational services including a free after school and summer program called B.L.A.S.T. (Banner Lake After School Time) for children ages 5-18 as well as a new Academy for students in kindergarten through third grade. BLC also has a Teen Program, a Food Pantry, Community Café, Soup Kitchen and a Senior Meals Program that delivers meals to qualifying seniors. For more information visit Banner Lake’s newly expanded website bannerlake.org, call 772-402-5167 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bannerlakeclub.