Every kid deserves a space to belong, every kid regardless of anything deserves a meal after school, deserves quality mentors, deserves a place where their voice can be heard.
Whether monetarily, in resources or in sentiment, the Rio Grande Valley has not been the exception when it comes to supporting the Uvalde community after the school shooting there cost the lives of innocents in May 2022.
For Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, positioning her club to assist the still-grieving community with amenities and activities designed to provide children with an outlet.
The Boys & Girls Club of McAllen was recently picked to help open Uvalde’s first club. Dalinda and her team are helping staff and guiding the process to ensure the club runs smoothly.
“There is a great need there,” Dalinda said, adding that many of the Uvalde residents were excited to hear about the club. “There is a need for families and for parents for … a place that their kids can go that feels like a safe place.”
According to Dalinda, this club is not only the first in Uvalde but it’s also the first in the West Texas rural area. The new club is currently located in a church called Templo Cristiano and has a limit of 50 children; however, Dalinda hopes this will serve as the stepping stone for more clubs in that region.
“I’ve gotten phone calls already from people who have family in Carrizo Springs and all of that area, so I think in the future it’ll likely sort of expand,” Dalinda said.
Starting Monday, March 27, a team from the McAllen club began leading the day to day operations of the club. Dalinda said two of her staff members will be living in Uvalde for about a month and will help implement high-level programming and safety.
Dalinda and two other team members will be traveling back and forth to assist with the administrative portion of the club.
Once established the McAllen team will return to the Valley and continue to guide the Uvalde club virtually.
Dalinda pointed to one encounter with a parent who helped put the efforts into perspective.
While in Uvalde the team met a mother whose daughter was among the survivors of the Robb Elementary School shooting, which cost the lives of 19 students and two teachers. Dalinda said the mother explained that her daughter along with several of her classmates who were in that classroom are still not attending school.
News of the club’s opening motivated the mother to sign up her daughter, believing it’ll provide an opportunity to ease her children back into a structured environment that feels safe.
“Every kid deserves a space to belong, every kid regardless of anything deserves a meal after school, deserves quality mentors, deserves a place where their voice can be heard,” Dalinda said, adding that they felt very honored to have taken part in establishing Uvalde’s first Boys & Girls Club.