The Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma City is entering day eight without power as linemen work to restore power to thousands across the state.
Last Monday, the building on Northwest 36th Street and North Western Avenue was full of kids when the lights went out. Staff members worked to call parents and send the kids home. They didn't realize they wouldn't open again for that week.
Vice President of Community Outreach, Safety and Facilities, A. Jaye Johnson says hundreds of families rely on the club.
"This is a place that is a home away from home for kids," he points out.
That home away from home is rarely closed. When school is out, during holidays and even when there is bad weather, if staff can get to the building, it's open.
This week the club is experiencing the one thing that would change that, no electricity.
"We feel so bad about what's going on," says Johnson. "We're not able to fulfill our mission of helping those kids."
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boys and Girls club's northwest Oklahoma City location catered to nearly 450 kids every day. Those numbers decreased to ensure social distancing. Now, they serve close to 200.
"This is home to so many kids who have been involved in this program who have grown up in the Boys and Girls Club they now have children that are here in the Boys and Girls Club," says Johnson.
Since the pandemic began, the club has been a place where students can do their virtual education.
This week, Johnson walks through classrooms where students typically study, learn new skills and prepare for their future. They are all dark.
The gym, typically a symphony of bouncing balls, now sits silent.
Breakfast, lunch, and a snack are typically served every day. On Monday, the club was forced to throw away boxes of chicken, milk, and other perishables.
"I don't know if my kids are eating so that's one of the things that is upsetting me the most," explains Johnson. "I'm not helping them in that aspect, so I just pray the power comes back on soon so that we can reach out and get those kids back here."
Johnson says he knows crews are working around the clock to restore power, so at this point he says all they can do is be patient and hope it's back on soon.
This year the club celebrates its 25th anniversary in OKC. Johnson says it will certainly be an anniversary they won't forget.