Open for Success
Story by Malin Dartnell - Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Madison-Morgan County boys and girls club grows to capacity in first year
At first glance, the Madison-Morgan County Boys and Girls Club seems to be a bit chaotic. There are young people running around, giggling, screaming, playing pool, coloring and playing hand games. Interspersed among them are their supervisors. Recognizable by their nametags, these good-hearted people appear to be having just as much fun as the kids themselves. After several minutes of observation, it becomes clear that this chaotic scene is, in actuality, quite organized.
The children are broken up into groups by age, and rotate through different “stations,” including art and free time.
These children, pre-teens and teenagers, ages six and up, have spent their summer in the safe, educational, fun setting of the new Madison-Morgan County Boys and Girls Club.
Six months ago, the citizens of Morgan County banded together to realize a dream several years in the making. One of the most financially supportive communities affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, the county was able to fund the opening of the local Boys and Girls Club on January 3.
At that time, the club aspired to hold 300 members after one year, and was housed in a small club building behind Morgan County Middle School.
Now, six months after its inception, the club has seen incredible growth. It has almost met its goal of 300 members and currently welcomes around 130 children a day.
By the fall, the Boys and Girls Club plans to have a paid staff of eight, in addition to volunteers. It has spilled out of its original home and currently makes use of the main club building, the eighth grade wing, the practice football field and the cafeteria of Morgan County Middle School.
Nonetheless, the club is pressed for space and is looking forward to a new addition this fall. The addition of almost 1,800 square feet will be home to a new art room as well as a technical lab of sorts, which will include audio and visual equipment for the students to work with.
On August 26, the board will meet to discuss a more long-term plan, possibly including the construction of a new club building.
“While we’d like to see plans for a new building in the future, funding for this is uncertain," said Harris Warbington, chair of the Board of the Madison-Morgan County Boys and Girls Club.
The new addition will cost an estimated $75,000, and will be funded in large part by the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. However, the Madison-Morgan County Boys and Girls Club will be expected to come up with 25 percent of the funds through their own fund raising campaign.
While this construction will be in conjunction with the Morgan County Board of Education, Warbington said that they look forward to seeing more corporations giving to and becoming more involved with foundations.
To become a member of the Boys and Girls Club, one must pay an annual membership fee of $35 as well as additional fees for each program (for example, the summer program costs $100) and the occasional field trip. These fees, however, don’t even come close to covering the $1,000 that providing one year of services to each member costs the club.
It is for this reason that the club is so thankful for any contributions, monetary and otherwise, as much of their funding comes from donations and fundraising.
The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta promises “to provide a quality developmental program that empowers metro Atlanta youth, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to become productive adults.”
Nationally, the results reported by Boys and Girls Clubs are incredible. Over 85 percent of Boys and Girls Club members nationwide graduate from high school and over 94 percent of “at-risk youth” referred to the Boys and Girls Club have no further legal encounters.
The educational focus is already evident in the children who’ve spent their summer at the Boys and Girls Club. When asked what his favorite part of the Boys and Girls Club was, nine-year-old Trey Chapman was quick to answer, “I like learning math.”
“I learned how to spell!” eight-year-old Noah Carver said.
Right now, the club is in the middle of the summer program, which began June 2. During the summer program, the Club is open every weekday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Each child is provided with breakfast and lunch every day. The club goes on field trips to the Atlanta Zoo, the skating rink, movie theater, other Boys and Girls Clubs and to the Morgan County Library. They participate in summer reading programs, the Junior Achievement Program, the Smart Girls Program, the Kiwanis Kids Cultural Challenge and a financial literacy program. They also do arts and crafts, with each day having a different theme.
“I like when we do art," eight-year-old Kayla Taylor said. "We make butterflies and color pictures. And we also make frisbees - we design our own and throw them in the sky and they fly!”
Somehow, between the educational programming, community service and art, the children also have free time throughout the day, when the pool, ping pong and air hockey tables are the popular hotspot during free time.
If you are interested in contributing to the Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club, contact Harris Warbington at email@example.com.