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Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa officially accepted in Boys & Girls Clubs of America

UTULEI, American Samoa —American Samoa First Lady Mary Ann Tulafono, who serves as Chairperson and Chief Volunteer Officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa, yesterday announced that the local youth club has met all the club requirements and has been accepted as a full-fledged member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

In a letter dated January 12, 2012 from Boys and Girls Clubs of America President James Clark – Mr. Clark wrote:

“It is a pleasure to officially advise you that the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa has met the requirements for and has been accepted into the membership of Boys & Girls Clubs of America as a unit club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa effective December 16, 2011.

I want to congratulate your leadership for the foresight in recognizing the need for additional youth services in Pago Pago. This demonstrates your board’s concerns for the needs of the young people in the area.

We are happy to welcome this additional Club into the national membership. (signed) James L. Clark.”

First Mary Ann Tulafono expressed her delight in hearing of the official news and expressed her sincere thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for making this affiliation a reality.

“This announcement is wonderful news for American Samoa and we are so grateful to President James Clark and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for allowing us to be an official member so that we can build and provide a positive venue that will enable our children between the ages of 6 to18 with a safe place to learn and grow while having fun.  And we believe that the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa is the ideal environment for our young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens of our island community,” said First Lady Mary Ann. “This great news is even more special because it took four years of planning and hard work and lots of prayers by the very dedicated and committed Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa, Executive Director Tupua Roy Fua and staff, and our many supportive partners. And I wish to thank all of them for contributing to this worthwhile venture for our youth.”

Governor Togiola said today that being an official unit club of the Boys & Girls Club of America has always been a priority for the young people of the Territory.

“From the beginning we set out to address the need to promote positive youth development and support the growing needs of all of the youth of American Samoa.” said Governor Togiola. “Our young people spoke out, loud and clear, that they wanted a youth center, a safe haven, a place for recreation, sports programs and an environment where they will find positive peer support. Well, this is a wonderful start. The programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa will provide that secure environment for our youth to enjoy entertainment that is appropriate for them, while having fun with each other in learning about healthy lifestyles and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation. Fun must always be part of learning. Congratulations to the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa, its partners and all of our children that are a part of the BGCAS for being an official unit club of the Boys & Girls Club of America. This is a blessing for our children and we are very thankful to God for His guidance so that we can be of use to Him by caring and proving for the children of American Samoa.”

In September 2010, the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa (BGCAS) was incorporated, and obtained its IRS 501(c)(3) designation in August, 2011.

First Lady Mary Ann said American Samoa’s youth face insurmountable challenges in comparison to their counterparts from the U.S. mainland. Contributing factors include remoteness, external influences through media, music and video games, fragmented services and an educational system that is struggling to meet national standards with limited resources.

“We are very concern with the development of our young people because yearly, over four hundred high school graduates enroll into the community college needing one to two years of remediation. Almost ninety percent (90%) of local 8thgraders lack basic math skills in standardized tests. Last year, one-third of the total caseload of the Family, Drug and Alcohol Court was comprised of two hundred to two hundred and eighty juvenile delinquents involved with alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, vandalism, burglary, public peace disturbance and/or aggravated assault. None of the juvenile offenders currently incarcerated or on probation earned a high school diploma,” said First Lady Mary Ann. “The steady rise of juvenile crime underscores the need for a community response that engages the government, private sector and our island community at large.”

First Lady Mary Ann said Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa is an opportunity to provide a safe environment with structured, adult supervised activities that promote academic achievement, personal growth, trusting relationships and responsible citizenship. Similar to clubs on the mainland, the local club facility will offer an array of programs for youth ages 6-18 as well as recreational sports and games. 

First Lady Mary Ann said the Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa will also host a “Community School” that will serve as an alternative education site for troubled youth and juvenile offenders. This comprehensive program will offer:  General Educational Development (GED)/High School Equivalency diploma, rehabilitation through individual and family counseling, vocational training, job skill development and job placement. Moreover, the “Community School” will serve at-risk youth, including teen mothers and non-traditional students requiring remediation and basic study skills.

To assist the BGCAS with these efforts, Governor Togiola Tulafono has secured a government-owned facility to start up the local Boys & Girls Club.  However, the building is over thirty years old and needs significant renovation, not to mention interior furnishing, equipment and supplies for the BGCAS program operations. First Lady Mary Ann said the Board of Directors is launching a Building Fund.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa essentially offers young people hope for the future and gives troubled youth a second chance on life,” said First Lady Mary Ann. “It is just the beginning of good things to come for our children. We know it will take a lot of hard work, perseverance and island support. We believe in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America theme of the club being a place where great futures are started each and every day, and we are happy and proud to provide the youth of American Samoa the opportunity to be a part of a positive place for them.”

The Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of American Samoa are:

First Lady Mary Ann A. T. Tulafono, Chairperson - TA’ITA’ITAMA - Prevent Underage Drinking Initiative as the territorial action against childhood drinking.

Taimalelagi Minnie Tuia, Vice-Chairperson - Civic/Volunteer Organizations, member of the American Samoa Red Cross and Chamber of Commerce.

Peter Gurr, Treasurer – Deputy Director of Agriculture. Organized sports for youth, Chair of the Samoa Bowl Committee and youth advocate.

Ipu Lefiti, Secretary – Health Community and Advocate for Domestic/Family Violence Prevention, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Domestic and Family Violence.

Adolfo Montenegro - Business Sector, Blue Sky Communications CEO/President.

Leilua Stevenson - Director of the Department of Human and Social Services, State Agency for substance abuse treatment and prevention and mental health.

Samana Semo Ve’ave’a - Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. State Agency for public parks and recreational activities.

Fred Scanlan – Program Director, Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Program.

Lealao Melila Purcell – Parents and Community at large.

Sa’ilipea Kennison Barber - Youth Services Organizations,Troop Leader - Boy Scouts of America.

Shiloh Pritchard - Youth Sector, President/American Youth Football of Samoa.

Pastor Miracle Tilo – Faith-Based Community, Youth Advocate. Religious Leader.

Pastor Henry Roberts – Drug-Free Community Coalition, Vice President/ Tualauta II Community Coalition.

Ainu’u Ta’ase Amosa – Media, Samoa Post CEO