Fighting the epidemic: Boys & Girls Club CEO discusses club’s impact in Eastern Panhandle
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Why do we need a Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle? What difference does it make in the lives of local children? According to club CEO Stacie Rohn, it can be life-changing, especially for children affected by the opioid epidemic.
Rohn spoke about the club, during the Feb. 18 Shepherdstown Community Club dinner in the War Memorial Building.
“I have worked in Boys & Girls Clubs and youth programs, basically all of my life,” Rohn said.
Rohn has spent the majority of her career caring for the underprivileged. Rohn was an employee at the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic and served as the CEO for the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County, before all of the clubs in the Eastern Panhandle were merged together. When the clubs began discussing merging, it had no local predecessor to base its decisions upon.
“We talked about a merger, but it was a foreign idea,” Rohn said. “We were a trendsetter in how nonprofit mergers might work. United Way of the Eastern Panhandle followed our example.”
That merger made it possible for the clubs to work together and raise funds to benefit each other. While the Martinsburg club is the largest, housed in a former car dealership in downtown Martinsburg, Rohn said funds donated to it are often shared with the two smaller clubs in Charles Town and Berkeley Springs.
“I made a promise that any money raised in the other counties would stay in the counties, although money from Berkeley County would go to the others, even though Berkeley County is larger than the others,” Rohn said.
The combined clubs, Rohn said, are able to be more effective together, as they share resources, goals and knowledge. They also share a mutual desire to help children succeed, in spite of the difficult home situations they may face. One way Rohn hopes to do this, is by developing a program for Eastern Panhandle children affected by the opioid epidemic. Rohn, herself, has a niece and nephew who have been victims of the opioid epidemic, which has helped her understand the needs of children affected by the opioid epidemic.
“We’re going to open a prevention program for children in all three counties, here in the Eastern Panhandle. It will be for children somehow influenced by the opioid epidemic,” Rohn said, mentioning she is envisioning the program will be in the outdoors, like a summer camp. “Ideally, we want for kids to know what it’s like to feel safe. Two of the weeks, we’ll do a signs of suicide assessment. If the kids are having thoughts of self harm, we want to be able to help them.”
Volunteers and financial donations are needed by the club, to make this program a success. To learn more, visit www.bgcepwv.net.