March 15, 2013

Boys & Girls Clubs save, change lives

Charles Oliver

— For many children, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Gordon, Murray and Whitfield Counties is a lifesaver.

In fact, 57 percent of alumni of the local Boys & Girls Clubs say the organization “saved my life,” according to a survey cited by Robbie Slocumb, the group’s executive director.

The local Boys & Girls Clubs held its 11th annual Stake Dinner, its major fundraiser, Thursday night at Ryman Hall. Motivational speaker and author Jon Acuff delivered the keynote address on how to find and live your passion.

Acuff said many people look for their calling to hit them like lightning. Instead, he said it often comes during quiet moments.

Kevin Aguilar, a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Clubs received the group’s “Youth of the Year” award.

“The Boys and Girls Clubs has been my second home. It really, really means the world to me,” he said. “Sometimes, someone simply believing in you makes all the difference. The Boys & Girls Clubs has shown me how bright my future can be.”

Boys & Girls Clubs board president David Renz said the club fills a vital role in the community.

“We see results every day,” he said.

Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States provide activities that are fun and character building for youngsters after school and during summers.

“We are getting more kids to come every day,” Slocumb said, noting that membership at the local chapter has grown to 1,900 from 400 just five years ago.

Slocumb said that juvenile crime picks up from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the Boys & Girls Club helps keep children busy during those hours.

He noted the club also provides outlets for those children to get more involved in the community. Club members help put out flags on the Whitfield County courthouse lawn on holidays and volunteer with organizations such as the RossWoods Adult Day Services and Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful.

The local Boys & Girls Clubs serves children in seven clubs in Chattooga, Gordon, Murray and Whitfield counties. Boys & Girls Clubs members receive programming from Boys & Girls Clubs of America focusing on art, health and fitness, character, leadership, education and career development, sports and recreation. They have a club-wide grade point average of 3.3, and there is a 90 percent high school graduation rate among Boys & Girls Clubs alumni.