(BEDFORD) – The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County is changing lives.
But they need your help. Thanks to a generous offer from an anonymous donor, the club is staging a mortgage burning campaign.
Did you know that a one-time 5th grader, who struggled to get along with others is now a volunteer?
The child would bully the other kids, calling them names and would act out.
“He wouldn’t take direction from the staff and caused a lot of disruptions during the day,” says Timber Browning, Resource Development and Marketing Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County.
Until one day the Limestone Unit Director called him into her office and talked to him about his behavior.
“She found out he thought he was being funny, and he liked the attention he was receiving from the club staff,” Browning added. “Following the discussion the Limestone Unit Director gave the gym staff the task of helping him realize he could use his actions, behavior, and personality for positive recognition rather than negative attention. It took our guidance and mentorship to help him see the kind of positive impact he could have on others. “
Today, this same boy volunteers his time to help the club youth in grades kindergarten through second grade. He helps them follow the directions in programs and he leads by example.
“Before he would leave early, now he is asking to stay later so he can make sure the little kids are getting all the help they need,” Browning added. “He is a leader! It just took someone, our club staff, to take time to listen, guide and mentor him. He now has other kids within the club his own age help him. We made a change in this young man and he is making even more changes within our club. But it’s not just our club that has been changed, it’s Lawrence County that will experience this impact now and in the future.”
This is just one of many examples of a success story that has evolved from the doors of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence County.
One of the most popular programs, Homework Help, averages 68 kids a day. During the month of January, volunteers helped 156 children with their homework.
“Homework Help is always full,” Browning added. “Our staff has helped numerous kids raise failing grades to A’s and B’s. We connect with the teachers and the schools, if needed, to ensure our kids get results. We want all the kids of the Club to be successful. We had a little girl in second grade, go from a 1st-grade reading level to a 4th-grade reading level, after only 30 homework sessions.”
It cost the club $425 per child for a one-year membership to attend the Club. If community members would skip their morning coffee or the purchase of a Polar Pop and donate that money to the club instead, they could assist in positively changing a child’s life.
“We only charge the families $30, a year per child,” Browning said. “Each time a child becomes a member, we are behind $395. This is why we have to fund-raise, to make up the difference. This is why paying off the mortgage is crucial. It will save us over $44,000 a year. We can then apply this money to the needs of our daily operation. ”
When the two clubs (boys and girls) merged in 2012 the new board combined what was owed into a sum of $820,000. After gradually whittling that total down to a manageable figure, the club is ready for a final push to purge the red ink from its books.
Mortgages, though sometimes necessary, become unpleasant realities. They are constrictive, burdensome and stressful, much like a pebble in the sole of your shoe. They keep you from advancing at your chosen pace.
At the end of 2019, an anonymous donor offered a contribution of $100,000 and issued a challenge to the community to match that offer. The deadline is Leap Day, Feb. 29.
Community activist Jim Sowders has vowed to take up residence on the roof of The Limestone if the goal is unrealized by Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.
Sowders is counting on the community to pull together.
“I’m going to take a leap of faith to celebrate,’ he added. “We’re planning a grand celebration!”
Frank Decker, the club’s chief professional officer, said he’s welcoming gifts from modest to magnanimous. All amounts will be greatly appreciated. Every quarter, dollar, $20 or $1,000 helps.
“This is so special for the kids,” he said. “We can do so much more with programming once the mortgage is retired.”
Sowders agreed. “The dream of reaching more and more children will be a reality,” he explained. “Our future possibilities are limitless.”
Decker estimated the amount needed to be around $60,000. Donations can be dropped off at the club or made online via the organization’s Facebook page. Club staff, board members and more importantly the club kids, are asking you to open your hearts and wallets and donate.