May 6, 2013 2:42 PM by Beth Saboe - MTN News

MSU architecture students heading east to help Sidney Boys & Girls Club

BOZEMAN - As families flock to find work in the Bakken, schools in the small town of Sidney are seeing a rapid rise in the number of students. One non-profit in particular is running out of room and without help will soon have to turn kids away.

Faced with this hurdle, a solution was found half the state away in Bozeman.

Students in the Montana State University School of Architecture are taking what they've learned in Bozeman and using it to help the Boys & Girls Club in Sidney.

"We love to get in these communities. We love to interact with the people of Montana," Professor Tom McNab said. "When the work came up for the Boys & Girls Club, it seemed like an ideal match for us."

MSU's Community Design Center is working on a new facility for the Sidney Boys & Girls Club, which is running out of room.

"Right now, we've had to limit the number of kids we serve because of the lack of space we have," the club's executive director Sarah Sifers said.

That lack of space is dire. Right now, the club shares a few rooms in a local elementary school. But staff and school administrators agree that they need their own building.

"Quite honestly, we're out of space. They're out of space. It is directly tied to the boom," Sidney Schools Superintendent Daniel Farr said.

With parents working long hours in the oil field, every year the Boys & Girls Club has seen a growth in the number of kids who need a safe place to go after school.

"We are the only after school program right now," Sifers said. "The energy companies that have moved in have brought with them a lot more families versus the boom in the ‘80s where it tended to be single men."

"It's not uncommon that a parent will leave for work by 4 in the morning and may not get back until 6. Depending on the energy sector that you're working in, you could be traveling great distances, which causes your day to start early and end really late and that's where the Boys & Girls Club really fills in for a lot of parent," Farr said.

Police say after school programs are critical to keeping kids out of trouble.

"It's a very structured learning environment versus maybe just going home and watching TV," Sifers said.

Now that the club has a design plan, it needs to start fundraising several millions of dollars to turn an empty lot into its new center.

MSU architecture student Beth Schmiesing says working on this project has been the highlight of her semester.

"Doing something for children in need and this organization and working with a non-profit, it's exciting to be able to give back to that," she said.

In part two of this two-part series, reporter Beth Saboe will provide a more in-depth look at MSU's Community Design Center and the plans they have for the Boys & Girl Club.


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