PITTSBORO — Pancakes did indeed help pave the way, but there’s still a little bit of road the newly-formed Boys & Girls Club of Pittsboro needs to cover.
Organizers of the club — which would join the existing Wren Family Center club in Siler City to serve Chatham’s student population with after-school programs and more — say last Wednesday’s “Pancakes Pave the Way” fundraising event at the county’s Agriculture & Conference Center raised about $40,000. With $25,000 in pledges already in hand for the event, combined with funds raised during the past year, that leaves the club less than $50,000 short of its $220,000 goal to open and serve students by this fall in the Professional Learning Center building on the campus of George Moses Horton Middle School in Pittsboro.
It’s a gap club organizers are relying on donors in Chatham to close.
“We are thrilled with the turnout and so grateful for the level of support we saw from our investors at the Pancakes Pave the Way event,” Daniel Simmons, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina, which includes Chatham, Lee and Harnett counties, said. “We made major strides toward our funding goal and, with only $49,000 to get to our goal, we are fully within striking distance of opening the Pittsboro Boys & Girls Club this fall. A tremendous thanks goes out to our investors who’ve already supported the project and we look forward to future support from those who will help us get to the starting line.”
New Chatham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson, an alumnus of the Boys & Girls Clubs, was the event’s keynote speaker.
The fundraising drive for the first Boys & Girls Club of Pittsboro will enable it to join established clubs in the region, including the Wren Family Center in Siler City, O.T. Sloan Park Club in Sanford, and the Robin Paige Club in Lillington. Club registration will be open to any child in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Upon opening, transportation will be provided from Pittsboro Elementary School and the Moncure School. The cost for families is $52 per student per year for the after-school program, which runs with the school year, with scholarships available for those who have a need.
Pittsboro Town Commissioner Kyle Shipp, who has led the effort to create a club in Pittsboro, told attendees that donors had the opportunity be the catalyst to get the club’s doors open.
“Of course, the most important part of this equation is the boys and girls who will fill the Boys & Girls Club,” he said.
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. A national clubs report showed that investing $1 in a Boys & Girls Club returns $9.60 to the local economy through current and future earnings and cost-savings for healthcare, public assistance and criminal justice system involvement.
Jackson, who began in his new role July 6 after a move from Vance County, encouraged Chatham residents to make an investment in the club. He told his listeners to imagine someone standing on the stage in the Ag Center 10 years from now saying, “This Pittsboro club made a difference in my life.”
He remembered a mural at the entrance of the club from his youth in the Washington, D.C, area, which read: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
The saying made a difference for him — as a child living in an area where “danger was around every corner” — and played “a significant role in the life of this superintendent.”
“And by the way,” Jackson added. “If I can sit in this seat, there’s nothing that the children in this community can’t accomplish.”
He called his experience as a Boys & Girls Club member “a game-changer” and said the launch of the new Pittsboro club would provide a safe place for children to gather after school, with high-quality programming to help level the playing field as they pursued their own goals and dreams.
“They’re watching us, they’re going to hold us accountable,” Jackson said of Chatham’s children. “This is great work, hard work — but not matter how hard it is, I will always bet on the kids. We’ve got to commit to making this not just the best club, but the best example of a caring, community partnership so that the kids win and the community will grow and prosper.”
Brian Davis, the chairman of the board of directors for the Central Carolina clubs, said the effort to create a club in Pittsboro met the district’s objective to “follow the footprint” of Central Carolina College and have clubs in locations where CCCC has campuses.
“The is more than a place to go after school,” he told attendees. “It’s a safe place for these kids to develop relationships and explore opportunities.”
Davis pointed out that the Boys & Girls Clubs of American don’t have “a pile of money” to give to communities to support new clubs.
“They have to stand alone,” he said, to raise the support.
He gave credit to Shipp, who took a vision for a Pittsboro club and made it into a near-reality, helping to form an advisory council and building enthusiasm for the club’s opening.
“It’s been a lot of work, and it’s exciting to be this close,” Davis said.
Advisory council member Chevon Moore of Hobbs Architects, club member Cheyenne Benton, a rising junior at Jordan-Matthews, and Dr. Amanda Hartness of Chatham County Schools were among the other speakers. Chatham County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Mike Dasher read a statement from Rep. Robert Reives II.
The new Boys & Girls Club has been in development for well more than a year. Early on, the group’s advisory committee established a local partnership with Pittsboro’s Kiwanis Club and planned to use the latter’s downtown location. Plans were under way to renovate the building and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in April. But that changed with plans to use the building at George Moses Horton Middle School.
“Last fall, we looked at and reviewed a lot of locations, and Horton Middle School — as it was called at the time — was one of those,” Shipp previously told the News + Record. “They didn’t really have a good location for us, but they said there was another building over there that might be available later, like thinking about a couple years from now.”
The Professional Learning Center at Horton has been vacant for much of the last year. Before then it was used as a training facility for school staff, but those functions are moving to a new administration building currently under development on Enterprise Drive. Shipp emphasized the decision to move to the school site was based on that building’s ideal fit for the Boys & Girls Club’s needs, and that the Kiwanis Club was still a partner of the Boys & Girls Club.
To make a donation to the Pittsboro Boys & Girls Club, visit https://qrco.de/PittsboroBGC or send a contribution to PO Box 551, Pittsboro, NC 27312. Parents and children interested in joining the club are invited to fill out a survey at http://qrco.de/PBGCsurvey.
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