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Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

Boys & Girls Club celebrates first week

Friday, March 25, 2011

(Photo)
Jodie Vincent, left, and Mariele Pluitt concentrate on getting another goal scored in the Foosball game at the Boys & Girls Club.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
Today is the last day of the Boys & Girls Club's first week and the verdict is in.

"It's cool."

That was the opinion of Caleb Peacock, an Eakin student who attends the program with his little sister, Alyssa. He admitted missing his computer and the games on it, but didn't seem to mind playing Connect 4 with his sister, or pool or foosball with the other guys.

Alyssa was more enthusiastic. Before the club opened this week, she spent her after school hours going to tutoring and she seems to like the activities at the club a lot more.

"We come in and we eat a snack, and then we play," she said.

Of course, she's not getting away from the tutoring, either.

"And then we do our homework," she added.

Pitching in

Since Roger Harrell first approached the community about opening a Bedford County branch of the international youth program in 2009, the community has responded.

"If we had had to pay for the complete costs of the renovation, it would have been five times as much," said Harrell. "It really does need a strong community to make a Boys & Girls Club a success. If it were not for the individuals on the board, I don't think we could have gotten the community involved -- they really reached out."

Only a week before opening day, it didn't seem as if the building at 1055 Madison St. would be ready in time. Walls weren't painted, ceiling tiles were removed and wiring dangled down. Volunteers helped hurry the process along. Students and teachers from the Tennessee Technology Center donated time and talents to wire the building and get computers up and running.

"They would come down in the morning of their class, and then some would come back and work, volunteer on their own time," said Harrell.

Coming together

(Photo)
Robby Hatton lines up his next shot on the pool table, but only after his homework was finished. Although he misses getting to be outside at his home after school, he said he likes having other kids his age to hang out with at the club.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
Now, the walls are bright and welcoming, with motivational posters decorating them. Pool tables, game tables and a foosball table fill the play area, and backpacks rest in wide cubbyholes across from the desk, where the staff can keep an eye on everything. Through a wide picture window, the computers can be seen lining one wall, facing along tables, designated for homework and study areas.

Inside, one of the Boys & Girls Club board members was helping Taylor Wood with his probability homework.

"I just dropped in to see how it was going, but they can always spot a teacher," said Joy Caskey, laughing. "We must dress funny."

In the play area, "Coach" Mariele Pluitt, a staff member, as well as an ESL teacher at Learning Way, was helping tiny Jodie Vincent dominate the foosball table against older and bigger opponents.

"I love it," he said. "This is a program that's been needed to reach these kids. It keeps them active and involved, and above all, it helps them with their education."

"We could not have had a better first week," said Harrell. "The kids, the parents, it couldn't have been smoother. The first week has been wonderful."

Just the beginning

While a lot of work got accomplished before the club opened, there is still more to be done, said Harrell, from hanging posters to driving in fence posts."

"We have someone who is coming out to grade the area behind the building for a playing field," he said. "It would be for flag football, soccer, whiffle ball, things like that."

But the area will have to have 6-foot fencing, which the club doesn't have yet.

(Photo)
Alyssa and Caleb Peacock face off in a game of Connect 4 while behind them, Kaden Kennedy challenges Kayson Cunningham.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
"We'd really like to have it done by summer so we can get them outside," he said.

There's also a parcel of land on the side of the building with southeast exposure that will be turned into a garden for the students.

"Some of our board member are chomping at the bit to get at that," Harrell said.

There's a long wish list for the club, from fencing and gardening supplies to transportation for field trips, but he's thrilled with what has been accomplished so far.

"One step at a time," said Harrell.

Learn more

Hours: The club will be open after school Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

During school breaks and vacations, such as the spring break beginning next week, the club is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Special fees apply and children must bring their own lunches.

For more information: Call (931) 735-6525 or email

bgcbedfordcounty@aol.com. There are still a few spaces available.



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