“When I go to his house, I feel so smart,” one former member of the Spencer Kids Group told his mother after spending time with his program mentor. A few months before, the member’s mother had watched him longingly watching kids toss a ball from the side of a YMCA pool, where he was playing alone. It was then she knew he needed a friend.
“The Spencer Kids Group was a way for my son to make needed friends and to find positive peer mentors during his afterschool hours,” the mother said. An anonymous Marshfield Clinic Health System employee nominated the Spencer Kids Group for Security Health Plan’s monthly Employee-Driven Corporate Giving Program.
Security is investing $1,000 in the Spencer Kids Group, which offers safe afterschool activities and a full meal to children ages 6 to 18 in the Spencer area – at no cost. “Age and good behavior are our only requirements,” said agency director Erica Schober. The program was opened 20 years ago to keep Spencer youth off the streets and out of trouble during their unsupervised afterschool hours.
Today, Schober says, “We don’t have that problem anymore. But I wouldn’t have believed the need before I began working here. There are so many young people who would go home to an empty house after school without the program, and many who rely on the homework help and full meal we offer.” The Kids Group has helped 180 members over the past year, and serves 30 to 40 youth on a typical evening.
The Spencer Kids Group offers a summer recreation program (for a fee), age-appropriate social events, mentors, a Youth Center where members learn special talents from volunteers and staff such as making ceramics or playing guitar, and the Spencer Homework Improvement Program (SHIP) for students in first through fifth grades. Volunteer SHIP tutors assist members with their homework or help them practice reading, math facts and spelling when they don’t have any assignments.
The Spencer Kids Group has also partnered with the Spencer Police and Fire departments to ensure members view the city’s social servants as friends and trusted adults they can turn to for help. Police and fire department staff join members in a game of kickball or basketball once a month.
The Spencer Kids Group relies on its volunteers, fundraisers, the United Way and grant awards. “We operate on an exceptionally small budget, but you learn to make every penny stretch as far as it will go, especially when it’s for these kids,” said Schober.
Security Health Plan’s donation will help support the Spencer Kids Group Youth Center. The Spencer Kids Group’s largest annual fundraiser, its Spring Fever dance, will take place on April 8. Support the Spencer Kids Group by joining them for food, drink, raffles and music by the Dave Edwards Group. Or, contact Erica Schober at 715-659-4969 to volunteer.
Every month, Security Health Plan invests $1,000 as part of its Employee-Driven Corporate Giving campaign. Marshfield Clinic Health System employees are encouraged to nominate an organization that it is making a positive difference in the community.
Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc., part of the Marshfield Clinic Health System, is helping its 230,000 members in Wisconsin and beyond reach their best health. Accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), Security Health Plan offers health insurance coverage for employees of large and small businesses, individuals and families. Security Administrative Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Security Health Plan, provides full service third party administration for self-funded employers in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.