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By Hope Cutter
Special to KyForward
As the final bell rings at the Newport Intermediate School, Emerald Bennett jumps on the school bus heading a few blocks up. Shortly, she’ll arrive at the Buenger Boys and Girls Club, where she will check in, get a snack, see what is in store for the rest of the day and get to it.
The Buenger Boys and Girls Club is located at 36 East 10th Street in Newport, Ky. This is a familiar address for 11-year-old Emerald, who has been coming to the club for four years both during the school year and over the summer.
The club draws Emerald back for many reasons. Her friends are at the top of the list. She said most of her fifth-grade class comes to the club. She enjoys spending time in the library as well, where she works on homework and her favorite subject: math. Emerald also likes what the entire club has to offer. The club creates a positive and welcoming environment for kids to engage in educational and developmental activities. You will see kids anywhere from kindergarten to 12th graders at the club.
Emerald is also a fan of Thursdays at the club. “You have to be here on Thursdays,” she said, “because of a program called Immersion Mentoring.” As part of the program, mentors come in to the club and get the kids into groups to focus on math and science.
Emerald is just one of the 350 members who use and appreciate what the Buenger Boys and Girls Club has to offer. The club’s goal for each member is to graduate from high school, stay fit for life and be ready to serve the community. These concepts are practiced day-to-day by setting time aside for homework, allowing time for physical activity, providing healthy food and keeping the club tidy.
The Buenger Boys and Girls Club is run by Molly Riehl. She’s been its director for 14 years and will celebrate her 30th year with the Boys and Girls Clubs in September. She started out as a lifeguard at the Marge Schott-Unnewehr Boys and Girls Club in Covington.
“I love Newport,” Riehl said. She admires the small town because of the relationships within the community. She said the atmosphere at the Buenger Boys
and Girls Club is good on every level, from active board members to the neighbors. The firefighters and police officers serve the community as well as the Newport Independent Schools and neighbors of the club, which Riehl enjoys.
Riehl wants the kids who are involved at Buenger to walk away with the ability to be self-sufficient and give back to the community. She pushes pride for the club and the community. “We always tell the kids: This is your club. Take pride in it,” she said. Riehl believes that if you are proud of something, you will appreciate it and take care of it.
The oldest Boys and Girls Club in Cincinnati opened in 1939 in Lower Price Hill. It is still there today and known as the Espy Boys and Girls Club. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati will be celebrating their 75th anniversary next year. The Buenger Boys and Girls Club started out of a church on York Street in Newport, in 1984. The present Buenger Boys and Girls Club building on East 10th Street was constructed in 1996 and continues work there today.
Hope Cutter wrote this story as part of an assignment for her public relations course, PRE 376. The class wrote feature stories on people and places in Newport’s Westside neighborhood, an inner-city area. NKU is focusing on the Westside this year, connecting academic work to a neighborhood project.