On Wednesday, August 28, the Boys and Girls Club held an event to celebrate its twentieth anniversary in Hernando County. The festivities took place at the Westside Elementary center.
The organization now has ten sites to serve school age children and five licensed preschools. Altogether the Boys and Girls Club serves more than 2,000 children from six weeks of age to eighteen years old.
Noreen St. Jean, Director of Outreach and Donor Relations networks with businesses and community members sharing information about the organization's programming.
“We work with the children that need us the most and help them become productive, caring and responsible citizens with a plan for the future. That's our main responsibility,” Ms. St. Jean stated.
Mary LeDoux is Chairman of the Board and just retired from Hernando County schools and her position as principal of Eastside Elementary School. Kenny Coggins, serves as Vice-Chairman.
"The importance of Boys and Girls Club is our ability to reach all children, even those whose parents may not be able to afford before and after school care. Boys and Girls Club provides children positive interactions with adults,” Ms. LeDoux commented.
Director of Development Jennifer Harpin remarked, "One of the most important contributions Boys and Girls Club makes is that we are helping raise academically successful individuals, people who are work-force ready. We are empowering the children and helping them learn the skills to be successful.”
Fees to participate in the club's activities are on a sliding scale based on income. The Boys and Girls Club offers programming geared to academic success, such as help with homework and extra assistance in subjects the student may be struggling with. There are also personal enrichment activities, geared to health and nutrition, building relationships and communicating. The club also offers character and leadership development, along with sports and games. Other activities include art, drama, music and creative writing. The centers operate throughout the school year and the summer, as well.
Noreen St. Jean welcomed everyone and thanked the Boys and Girls Club's major sponsors – Kiwanis Club of the Adventure Coast, Wittel and Melton Law Group and WellcomeOm Center. Other contributing sponsors include Cadence Bank and Centennial Bank.
County Commissioner Jeff Holcomb read a Proclamation recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Boys and Girls Club in Hernando County.
Holcomb stated, “On behalf of the county commission, it's an honor to be here. Organizations like this are important because we don't want government doing everything. We need good community organizations like this.”
Ms. LeDoux concluded, “What I love about Boys and Girls Club is that it provides the positive role models, mentorship and the structure that these children need so that they can become positive, active leaders in our community. They can see that there is a way out of poverty.”