R’Club’s 11th annual celebration breakfast

Art O’Hara

 

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – R’Club, Inc. and Louise Graham Regeneration Center, Inc. held their annual celebration breakfast last month at the historic Coliseum. For 11 years, these breakfasts have served as sort of a report card to the community to show the progress of the organization.

A leader in early learning and youth programs, R’Club was established as a nonprofit corporation in 1976 to provide high quality accessible and affordable before and after school programs in response to a critical need identified by a community-wide task force.

Dr. Tonjua Williams

Dr. Tonjua Williams

Over the years, R’Club has expanded to include high-quality nationally accredited full day early learning, VPK, Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, before and after school elementary and middle school high-quality enrichment and enhancement programs for more than 4,000 children daily from eight weeks to 14 years old.

“We make every effort to have the highest quality programs available for children and families. One of the indicators of high quality is national accreditation of our early learning centers,” said Executive Director Art O’Hara, adding that accreditation is just another indicator that they’re doing what they need to do to help prepare children to be school ready.

Crystal Taylor, CEO of EduMatrix, which specializes in program evaluation, was on hand to say a few words about how their assessments see nothing but success for R’Club’s afterschool programs.

Crystal Taylor

Crystal Taylor

“Year after year we have found based on the data that R’Club is successful and truly at the top of their game. Students are making As in English, math and science,” said Taylor, who measures success by analyzing pre and post-test scores, mid-test scores, report card grades, parent surveys, among others quantitative and qualitative data.

“Even though it’s an afterschool program, they are teaching things that are not covered in the school day,” she said, noting that social skills, health and physical education are taught outside of academics.

O’Hara was proud to report the progress of Happy Workers Learning Center, which they took over last year. On top of a facelift, they’ve revamped the program by implementing R’Club’s high-quality procedures and policies, a new curriculum and added a lot of training for the teachers.

“The curriculum is a creative curriculum, which is a nationally-normed, evidence-based curriculum, and the kids are responding tremendously,” stated O’Hara.

David Jolly

David Jolly

The entire construction project should be completed by the end of the year and will be able to enroll up to 120 children.

O’Hara touted the HIPPY Program (Home Instruction for Parents and Preschool Youngsters) that has been able to expand through funding from the Juvenile Welfare Board. The program is a home-based, parent involvement, school readiness program that helps parents prepare their three, four and five-year-old children for success in school and in life.

HIPPY helps parents empower themselves as their children’s first teacher by giving them the tools, skills and confidence they need to work with their children at home. As high as 96 percent of program participants enter kindergarten on grade level.

Louise Graham Regeneration Center

The Louise Graham Regeneration Center is a non-profit corporation established in 1949 by Mrs. Louise Graham to assist developmentally disabled adults to become more independent. Today, the center continues her vision by providing developmentally disabled adults with high-quality adult daily living and pre-vocational training.

The center has a variety of work programs such as Secure Shred of Florida, a secure document destruction business. The center also features packaging, paper and cardboard recycling that provides paid employment and training opportunities for consumers as well as operational funds for the program.

“We’re excited about what we’ve done this year. We’ve added employees; we’ve added jobs for folks with disabilities, and the program is growing by leaps and bounds,” said O’Hara.

The center teaches daily living skills, employability skills and has leisure time activities. Some participants are doing well enough to be placed in competitive employment off-site.

The center continues to grow, and you can help with that growth by contacting them for secure document destruction or recycling your cardboard.

“What a great way to create employment for folks with disabilities and to do a good thing for the environment,” stated O’Hara.

The morning wrapped up with former U.S. Representative David Jolly and St. Petersburg College President Dr. Tonjua William as keynote speakers.

To donate to R’Club or Louise Graham Regeneration Center, please call (727) 578-5437.

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