SANTA FE, N.M. — When the Pojoaque Pueblo temporarily closed its Boys & Girls Club last fall in a restructuring move to focus more on pueblo children, it left a void for numerous non-tribal children in the area.
That void will be filled when the new school semester begins in January with the opening of the Del Norte Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe at the old Marcos P. Trujillo Teen Center in La Puebla, between Pojoaque and Española.
“It’s so exciting,” said Del Norte director Annette Arvizu. “It’s also a need in the community. I’m glad it did come together as fast as it did. It was in high need. About 100 kids had nowhere to go. The club was their after-school home. It was in high demand for a club to serve the entire community.”
The restructuring of the Pojoaque club caught many parents by surprise, said parent Denise Tiede of Chimayó, who has three boys who participated in the club for years.
“I was very disappointed to learn the club had closed,” she said. “We found out on the first day of school via email, so we had to act fast and figure out what we were going to do.”
It was imperative to move quickly, said Roman Abeyta, executive director of seven Boys & Girls Clubs in the area.
“The Pojoaque club was a popular club,” he said. “It served a lot of children, so once it was closed it off to non-tribal members, it became very important for us to do something so these children would not displaced and they would have a place to go.”
The clubs “provide a safe place for children outside of their home, outside of school hours, during summer or after school when children don’t have any place to be because their parents work,” Abeyta said.
The new club will offer a number of after-school activities, including such things as sports and dance, as well as homework assistance, Arvizu said.
It was at the pueblo club that Denise Tiede’s middle son learned to love running, so much so that to fill the time left vacant by its closing, he instead joined the Pojoaque Valley High School’s cross-country team. And her oldest son joined the school’s basketball program.
“My children had a really hard time when the club closed,” she said. “With the club, they had a fitness program, had a running club. We didn’t know what we were going to do this summer. It was tough for them a lot. So when we heard about this opening, we were very excited.”
The Tiede children are already signed up for the new club, as are about 20 others, Arvizu said. The hope is to grow the club to about 100 participants by the end of the spring semester, she added. A transportation agreement has already been worked out with Pojoaque schools. Because of the club’s location near Española, Arvizu is hopeful an agreement with that district can be achieved, as well.
As for now, however, Tiede and other local parents are happy there is a safe place for their children to go after school.
“I’m going to send my youngest son there after school,” she said. “And then, as soon as my two other children are done with basketball, I’m going to send them there, as well. My kids are really active at the Boys & Girls Club. The two oldest were junior staff members. And they were very active in things like the Torch Club and Keystone, doing volunteer activities in the community.”