Community Invests In Lawrence County Youth – Boys & Girls Club Of Lawrence County Is Debt Free

(BEDFORD) – The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County is now debt-free. With the help of several people throughout the years, the youth of Lawrence County have a place to call theirs.

Audio: Frank Decker, Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County comments on being debt-free

The $2.5 million debt that was incurred in 2001 is now paid in full after nineteen years. The $4,000 a month in payments have been erased. $44,000 a year can now be used on programs and services for the youth of Lawrence County.

The Thornton Memorial Boys Club was dedicated on February 27, 1957. Today it is used as a Teen Center for after-school activities and homework.

The Boys Club formed in the 1940s and the Girls Club started in 1972. It was a humble beginning.

The Girls Club was started in 1972 by Shirley Wildman with one bat and three softballs.

“When the girls club began in 1972 at 512 P Street, they had one bat and three softballs,” said Kelly Fitzgerald Cobb.

Audio: Kelly Fitzgerald Cobb comments on the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County

After intense discussions, the Boys and Girls Club merged in 2011.

Kelly Fitzgerald Cobb had a vision for a better Girls Club facility. Now the youth of Lawrence County can call it their own.

Fundraising efforts started in 1999. They moved into the new club in 2002. Over five-years, individuals donated $1 for bricks to start construction on the new facility.

In 2001, Andy Webb, who was 10, asked Dr. Sowders “Why are you on the roof? “To raise money for the club” Sowders replied. Webb went back to his house got his money out of his piggy bank from mowing lawns and donated it. Today, Andy’s children donated their pennies.

The dream began in 1989 when Kelly Fitzgerald was just out of college and applied for the director’s position. Her goal was to build a new building for the Girls Club.

“The girls needed something better; it bothered me, inspired me and motivated me that the girls had very little,” Kelly Cobb said.

A week later after being hired, she looked at the checkbook and it only had $2.92 in a balance. Over the next ten years the club grew. They used Stalker Elementary to host basketball games and sporting events.

The future looks bright for the boys of Lawrence County

Now, the club helps both boys and girls and will for many generations to come.

Several businesses, organizations, and individuals have played a part in making the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County become a success. The Club offers area youth sports, education and many after school programs to allow the next generation of adults to be successful in whatever endeavors they should choose.

As promised, Jim Sowders jumped off the roof following speeches from Frank Decker, Director of the Boys & Girls Club Lawrence County; Hadley Hawkins; Dr. Angie Lewis, Boys & Girls Club President; Dr. Jim Sowders; and Kelly Fitzgerald Cobb, former Director Limestone Girls Club.

Dr. Jim Sowders jumps off the Limestone Unit making good on a promise should the debt get paid off.
Audio: Jim Sowders comments on the event at Boys & Girls Club Lawrence County

Sowders challenged the community that if the mortgage was paid for by February 29th, he would jump off the roof. With several onlookers and supporters, Sowders climbed to the roof of the club and leaped.

The mortgage is burned.

Gathered around the trash barrel, the mortgage was lit and went up in smoke. All that remains is ashes.

The future looks bright for the girls of Lawrence County.