BY MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Like hundreds of parents at the Boys and Girls Club of Bend, Heidi Gilstrap drops her daughter Marley off each day so that she can get to work.
“You don’t just want to put your kid anywhere,” Gilstrap said.
Affordable childcare is a huge problem in Central Oregon, and many parents rely on scholarships from the Boys and Girls Club of Bend to keep their kids taken care of. This weekend, a unique fundraiser will make sure that doesn’t change.
And as a single parent taking care of a child with special needs, living in a childcare desert has never worked in Heidi’s favor.
“Across the state of Oregon there are 221,000 school aged students that are not enrolled in an after school program that would enroll in one if one was available,” said Juliana Williams, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Bend. “There’s a really large need.”
Williams says in Bend alone, there’s only enough space for 26 percent of the community’s preschool children.
While capacity is one barrier, cost is an even larger one.
Something Bend Gives Back is hoping to change.
“Giving In Style is a fun-filled fashion show and party for charity, benefiting local non-profits,” said Andra Von Behren, executive director of Bend Gives Back. “Last year, we raised $40,000 for Boys and Girls Club and so we’re partnering with them again this year.”
All proceeds from the Giving In Style fashion show will go towards scholarships at the Boys and Girls Club of Bend.
“The event is a blast, the auction is great, and everything you do supports Boys and Girls Club.,” Von Behren said.
Scholarships help 75 percent of the regular club members – that’s $350,000 of tuition assistance each year.
Tuition that goes to families like Heidi’s.
“Things like this, and how it continues to keep happening, keep growing, keeps places like this alive. That helps me, it helps my child…it’s amazing,” Gilstrap said.
The Giving In Style charity fashion show is this Friday, and tickets are still available at givinginstyle.org.
If you’d like to learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of Bend, head to bgcbend.org.