PITTSBORO — The Boys & Girls Club has officially unveiled its new Pittsboro location, opening to members with a ribbon-cutting on Monday.
It marked the culmination of an almost two-year project to bring a club to Pittsboro. Members will meet at the Professional Learning Center on the campus of George Moses Horton Middle School in Pittsboro.
The Boys & Girls Club provides a variety of after-school services and programming, including tutoring, additional academic support, mentorship programs and more. Elementary and middle school students will be able to participate in the activities at the Pittsboro club.
Participating students will be able to join the club for $52/year, with financial assistance available for families who face financial hardship or are on a fixed income.
This project to create a club in Pittsboro was spearheaded by town officials, representatives of the Boys & Girls Club, school administration and many community partners.
Pittsboro Mayor Jim Nass said he, along with Commissioner Kyle Shipp, were approached by residents about Pittsboro students’ lack of after-school activities.
“It was just about two years ago exactly that Kyle and I were at a candidates forum before the election, and some of the folks that attended that raised the issue that we need some things that our children can do after school,” Nass said. “Shortly after the election, Kyle and I met up with some regional Boys & Girls club people who sort of explained to us how this all works.”
Daniel Simmons, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina — the region which includes Siler City’s Wren Family Center and clubs in Lee and Harnett counties — said his first meeting with town officials took place at the Blue Dot coffee shop just a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shut down.
“It was kind of a pie in the sky idea at the time,” Simmons said. “Pittsboro has always been on our radar for a Boys & Girls Club, and when we were approached about this, my first thought was, ‘I thought you would never ask.’”
Simmons said the pandemic threw everyone into an unprecedented loop, but the project never lulled despite COVID-19 lockdowns and school shutdowns.
“I’ll tell you, this project never stopped,” Simmons said. “Here we are, less than two years later, getting ready to open the doors to this wonderful club.”
Organizers and project leaders worked to raise around $220,000 for the club to open its doors, meeting its fundraising goal in mid-August.
Those involved in the project said the club wouldn’t be a reality were it not for Shipp’s commitment and vision. After that first meeting, and after COVID restrictions forced schools to go online, Shipp and other project leaders started to meet via Zoom to move the project along.
“Right after that first meeting, we went into lockdown,” Shipp said. “From last July, we’ve been on Zoom. We’ve done a couple of community events where we had been together, but everything else has been virtual.”
Shipp said Pittsboro residents began coming to him a few years ago, asking for a place students could go after school.
“The middle school kids would go downtown and cause trouble at local businesses and things like that,” he said. “So to have this as something for kids to do is great for Pittsboro.”
The club will give participating members the start they need to be successful beyond the classroom, Shipp added.
“It’s not just babysitting,” he said. “It’s academic support, it’s career development — we’re working on some programs with the community college — so it’s really a feeder for setting people up for their whole careers in a few hours after school.”
He looks at the completed effort and sees it as something beneficial to the Pittsboro and Chatham County community.
“It’s incredible,” Shipp said. “It’s been a lot of work among all these people and a lot of coordination, so it’s really hard to describe how I feel.”
Chatham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson — himself a Boys & Girls Club alumnus — helped to celebrate the ribbon-cutting festivities Monday, saying the initiative will help students grow into strong contributers in their community.
“We’re going to plant seeds here today, and our kids are going to grow,” Jackson said. “They are going to be strong trees for us because we are making the investment now.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at email@example.com.
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