Held at NorthPointe Church Thursday morning, and organized by the Adairsville Council, guests heard from Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County Chief Professional Officer Gordon Gilley about plans to build a new location for the Adairsville location, which opened in 2006. The Bartow County organization as a whole began in the early 1990s in Cartersville, which opened at capacity, Gilley said. After a number of years, he continued, the club’s board decided to expand.
“The first one we wanted to open was in north Bartow in Adairsville. In 2006 our board took the leap of faith and opened the Adairsville unit of Boys & Girls Club of Bartow County, which also opened at capacity,” Gilley said. “... I said our board took a leap of faith and they really did, and then 2008 happened where we all fell off a cliff for the most part. But we’ve never had to compromise our services. We didn’t cut hours. We didn’t cut staff, because we run pretty lean. ... But we never had to compromise our services and that’s important — it’s important not to.”
The club’s current location on King Street used to be a Georgia Power building, Gilley explained, before the club took possession and renovated the structure. Gilley said the organization hopes to get a $500,000 Community Block Development Grant to help pay for part of building a new location.
“We’re going to eventually build a new facility here in Adairsville that kids deserve and need desperately. It’s going to happen. The dialogue ... the important thing right now is the dialogue. It’s happening,” he said.
Among the services offered at both Boys & Girls Clubs are help with schoolwork, civic responsibility and what Gilley described as “skills for living.”
“Supplemental education is our No. 1 priority, whether it’s homework help, group projects, brain of the day, you name it. They come in after school and they complete their homework with the help of our staff and volunteers. ... So with the supplemental education, we have a fine arts collaboration with the Booth Western Art Museum, we do arts and crafts, we do social recreation, we do prevention programs, we do things called SMART Moves — which is a prevention program for everything from drug and alcohol prevention. We’d rather prevent the negative behavior from happening rather than intervening. Now we’ll intervene if we have to. Leadership clubs, civic responsibility, community programs and this is all in a six-hour day. During summer it’s an 11-hour day,” he said.
Any child between the ages of 6 and 18 is eligible to join the club, and each community’s Boys & Girls Club is operated by a local board.
“This group here governs your Boys & Girls Club. No one else. We don’t report to the national office,” Gilley said.
Approximately 90 students go to the Adairsville location every day after school, Gilley added, and the Bartow County club’s record as a whole shows 97 percent of their members finish high school and a quarter go on to get a bachelor’s degree.
“Probably our largest, our fastest-growing demographic — and we all hear about single-parent kids — are no-parent kids. About a quarter of our kids walk through the Boys & Girls Club door without living with either one of their biological parents,” Gilley said. “That’s a recipe for disaster. It’s our challenge to be the go-between with the hope that we can help them at home.
“... People sometimes think it’s a place where ne’er-do-well, bad kids go. Baloney. Our kids are good. They deserve services. They want to do well. They just need some — I won’t say a hand up — but they need some assistance, and that’s what your Boys & Girls Club does every single day.”
Barry Adcock of NorthSide Bank told the breakfast guests his Leadership Bartow group selected the Boys & Girls Club of Adairsville for their service project.
“Something our group could focus on that would benefit the greater community. As our group was put together, we were put together because of our common interest in the lives of children and kids and teenagers, and so we began to meet and discuss what we could do to really have a significant impact on the kids of Bartow County. One of the suggestions that quickly came up was doing something, some way of getting involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Adairsville,” he said.
On Saturday, April 26, the Boys & Girls Club of Adairsville will host a volunteer work day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The work is slated to involve painting, pressure washing, window washing and weeding on the property. Those interested in donating items are asked to consider supplemental education and art supplies as well as paper products. For more information, call the club at 770-773-7333.
After the presentation, chamber President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. and Janet Queen of Georgia Power reminded guests about the chamber’s plans for an “old-fashioned festival.” Called the Chamber Family Fair, it will be held May 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. and is intended to be family-friendly. The event will feature barbecue, informational booths and games. Queen said there are plans for a lighted midway and a literal stump for politicians running in the various elections. Each politician, Queen added, will have a time limit.
Queen said there was still space for additional booths and those interested in signing up for one of the $100 slots should call the chamber at 770-382-1466.