Boys & Girls Club pitches plan

The steering committee of the proposed Boys & Girls Club of North Central North Carolina held an invitation-only presentation and reception Tuesday night. Approximately 25 people gathered in the auditorium of Maria Parham Medical Center for the informational session.

The crowd included City Manager Eric Williams, Vance County Commissioners Terry Garrison and Wilbur Boyd, and state Rep. Michael Wray.

The session began with introductory remarks by Elaine Chavis-Young, the president of the steering committee. Officers and members were introduced. Treasurer Nat Miller gave the history of the committee from its inception in February through October. He reported that the group is working on a constitution, bylaws and articles of incorporation. He also said the group is working on 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit organization, something that could be obtained in as little as nine weeks.

Committee member and City Council member-elect Garry Daeke addressed the need for a Boys & Girls Club in Henderson. He cited several statistics, such as the 1-in-10 rates for teen pregnancy and unemployment, the below-grade-level achievement in reading and writing, the high dropout rate, and the high poverty rate.

“We’re not here to take the place of the YMCA or the Rec Department,” Daeke said. “We complement them.”

He said the club would require $150,000 to start, as well as games, books, art supplies, computers, business services and a building.

The possible sites Daeke mentioned included a school, the soon-to-be-vacated library and the DAV building on East Andrews Avenue.

Duane Hinshaw, the regional services director for the Southeast Region of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, presented remarks regarding the national organization. Both the Southeast Region and the national organization are based in Atlanta.

Hinshaw, a veteran of the juvenile justice system in Fort Wayne, Ind., told those assembled that he “thought there had to be a better way.”

He said he knows of no better prevention program for taking drugs, smoking, drinking and committing crime than Boys & Girls Clubs.

According to Hinshaw, 95 percent of children who were scientifically polled at the behest of the organization felt no connection to family, church or school. He said kids who do not feel connected to one of those institutions fall prey to gangs. Boys & Girls Clubs provide a similar connection.

Hinshaw discussed programs offered by the clubs that have been carefully developed and vetted by the national office. Those Core Programs include an academic Power Hour and the gang-prevention Street Smart program. The national organization trains local staff in those programs.

The audience was encouraged to visit a local club. The nearest Boys & Girls Club to Henderson is in Wake Forest.

Hinshaw described the chartering process for a local club. The requirements include having a board of directors, a qualified, full-time executive director, an adequate budget, and an annual report.

The regional director also reported that Boys & Girls Clubs of America is the fastest-growing youth services organization in the world. It is projected that more than 4,000 clubs will serve 5 million children next year.

Wray mentioned to the audience that Vance County is a candidate for gang-prevention funding from the state. He said he will work hard to secure the money for Vance County, but he could not promise it.