By The Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County enthusiastically reports the return of Newport Yacht Rendezvous, its signature gala that has been a tradition since 2013.

Scheduled for August 13th at the Newport Shipyard, the evening features dinner, dancing, touring yachts and the Club’s infamous “Raise the Paddle,” where the synergy is felt as attendees raise their paddles to pledge their support for the Club. 

This year, Allen “Captain Al” Corcoran will emcee Raise the Paddle, along with the Club’s 2021 and 2020 Youths of the Year.  Proceeds will support Club programs and services for disadvantaged children and youth in the Club’s service area.  

This year’s event is particularly meaningful, since last year’s pandemic caused the Club to cancel the in-person event that would otherwise sellout to over 400 attendees and modify it to comply with state limits on gatherings.  “This time last year, we had asked our supporters to hold small gatherings in their homes, and while we missed seeing everyone coming together to support our Club kids, so, so many took the lemon and made lemonade,” said Director of Development Kelley Coen. “Our donors made the Club a priority within their comfort level and the state guidelines.  Some had small outdoor dinner parties, others had a family meal, and still others opted for a direct donation.”

“This year, we’re so excited to see everyone in person and celebrate together once again,” she added, “and we are so grateful for a return of our partners, Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard and the several yacht owners, who are working with us to bring this event back to life.”

Even though the state has re-opened for business, the pandemic continues to burden the Club’s finances, protocols, and staffing for summer camps, child care and after school programs because children remain unvaccinated. Pursuant to the guidelines, the Club must continue to limit groups to 20 to 26 members (“pods”), led by 1 to 2 staff. Pods cannot intermingle, must move together from one activity to another, and must maintain social distancing from other pods.  Frequent sanitization takes place throughout the day. Due to the academic and mental health setbacks that members have suffered because of the past year’s school shutdowns and distance learning, the Club has added more pods this summer in order to reach as many kids in need as possible and will do the same this school year to help them get back on track.

With philanthropy funding more than 75% of the Club’s budget, the Newport Yacht Rendezvous’ success is sorely needed to help meet the additional costs associated with complying with pandemic guidelines. “This year, our overhead costs have definitely increased due to the pandemic, but unfortunately state and federal recovery funding has decreased,” explained Executive Director Joe Pratt. “At the onset of the pandemic, the Club was able to secure $300,000 in pandemic relief funding from the government as well as private foundations and donors. So far this year, though, there has been less funding available for pandemic relief, while regular expenses for necessities such as food, fuel and utilities have increased. Our families are already economically disadvantaged and face these same increases, thus making it even more imperative that our fees remain low and funding is secured through fundraising vehicles.” 

Now in its 65th year, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County was founded to provide a safe haven for youth who needed help with challenges in their lives and encouragement toward brighter futures. The Club’s mission is to ”inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need help most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.”  With a pre-pandemic membership of nearly 2,200 individuals and outreach activities that positively impact approximately 6,000 youth annually in both Newport and Washington Counties, the Club plays a vital role in strengthening and supporting the communities it serves. Also, since the pandemic’s onset, the Club has collaborated with other organizations to supply basic needs like food, cleaning products and toiletries to families most impacted.

As the leading youth guidance agency in Newport County, the Club provides a positive, safe and fun environment for children and youth ages 5 to 18 to learn and grow at its clubhouses, summer camps and outreach programs. Our Central Clubhouse in Newport is home to licensed before- and after-school childcare and serves members up to age 16, and its Clubhouse in Newport’s North End neighborhood serves teen members and is home to the Club’s College and Career Center. In a typical summer, over 500 Newport County and Washington County youths attend club camps: Camp Grosvenor, its 95-acre day camp in Saunderstown, and a learning loss prevention program in Newport.  During the school year, the Club provides programming to youth in South Kingstown and Westerly in Washington County, where no Boys & Girls Club exists.  To meet basic needs, the Club provides transportation to and from its facilities and serves healthy dinners and snacks daily.  

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