Newly renovated club opens in time for school

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 4, 2008

After an eight-month absence, the Boys and Girls Club of LincolnCounty is ready to reopen for the first time since closing inJanuary for extensive renovations.

Brookhaven Police Department Lt. Scott Brister, a 19-yearveteran of the club’s board of directors, said the organizationwill be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday for registrationfor the upcoming calendar year. A ribbon cutting ceremony isplanned for 10 a.m. Thursday.

The $30 registration fee, which must be paid at the time ofenrollment, guarantees a child’s membership in the club for thenext full year, including summer 2009.

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“It’s a small price to pay for supervision, tutoring and help withhomework,” Brister said. “We help the kids get all their homeworkdone while they’re here, we feed ’em snacks while they’re here andby the time their mommas come to pick ’em up, they’re ready to gohome and eat supper.”

Once registration is complete, the club will return to its normalafter school activities Wednesday from 3 until 6 p.m. The club willbe open to its members – who totaled around 90 when the club closed- every weekday afternoon during that time.

Brister said the club would pick up where it left off in January,providing school children three hours of supervision and safety,academic instruction and tutoring, and games and activities eachweekday afternoon.

The job will be easier and more efficient in the improved building,said BPD Sgt. David Johnson, a 14-year member of the club’s boardof directors.

The approximately $307,000 grant-funded renovation, performed byScarbrough Construction LLC of Roxie, has equipped the buildingwith a new roof, floor, doors and windows and fresh paint allaround.

The biggest improvement to the building from an academicstandpoint, however, is the addition of three new classrooms,Johnson said.

“We’re going to use the rooms to give move individual attention togroups,” Johnson said. “Before the children were all together. Nowwe can do more specialized tutoring by age group.”

Even with the club building’s rebirth, Johnson said there is onething the club will always need – donations.

“We’re a strictly non-profit organization, and we’re always open todonations,” he said. “There’s a million things we can use. All thisis no good if the lights are turned off next week.”

Both Brister and Johnson said the club is a worthy target fordonation, as a child’s membership in it does more than just providea child a place to wrap up his or her homework. The three hours achild spends each day in the club is three less hours that childwill have to encounter a negative, outside influence.

“Unsupervised kids are more prone to get in trouble,” Johnson said.”Most of the trouble comes from a bored kid.”

Now that the club building is born again, Brister and Johnson saidthe board has plans in motion to utilize it for the benefit of theelderly during daytime hours when its members are at school.

“Within the next year, we plan to incorporate some activities forthe elderly,” Brister said. “We want to provide them a place to gettogether and socialize, play bingo, watch TV or just sit around andshoot the breeze.”

Brister said anyone wishing to volunteer at the club – especiallyhigh school children looking to fulfill community servicerequirements – may drop by during its operating hours any weekday.Volunteers are always welcome, he said, as the club normallyoperates with four paid employees and however many volunteers itcan muster.

“We’re trying to provide a small service that may make a bigdifference in a child’s life,” Brister said. “We get them here ataround 7 (years old), and some stay all the way until theygraduate.”