Youth program relaunches

Johnston County Boys and Girls Clubs members enjoy foosball in one of the Selma Elementary School’s portable units, which have housed the club since its building was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Steve Reed | Johnstonian News

The Johnston County Boys and Girls Clubs’ drumline performs at this year’s end-of-school celebration. Contributed Photo

Boys and Girls Clubs leave Selma, new club formed

By Steve Reed

SELMA — Boys and Girls Clubs of Johnston County will cease operation on Dec. 31.  A new nonprofit organization, My Kid’s Club,  will assume all the responsibilities of the local club.

The Boys and Girls Clubs’ board of directors cited a “lack of stability of the organization in Johnston County”  for the decision.

“There were a lot of people who worked hard for the Johnston County club,” said Boys and Girls Club development director Jacqueline Kannan. “We were not able to provide Johnston County with the autonomy they wanted. It was not an easy decision to make, but now the Johnston County organization will have more freedom to decide what to do with their own club and their fundraising efforts.”

“I love the Boys and Girls Clubs,” said My Kids Clubs interim CEO Thad Woodard. “I’ve been affiliated with them for 40 years. The  people, program and progress are outstanding and the results speak for themselves.”

Woodard said when the club announced it was pulling out of Johnston County, a group of leaders who had been involved with the club over the years stepped forward and incorporated as My Kid’s Club.

My Kid’s Club new board members are Shirley Cohen, Leo Daughtry, Olivia Holding, Wendy Kelly, Durwood Stephenson and Woodard.

For the participating children and families, Woodard said the new organization will be similar to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“It will be the same people running the new program,” said Woodard. “We will advance this program and take it to other welcoming communities across Johnston County. ”

The Boys and Girls Clubs have been meeting at Selma Elementary School ever since their building, located at 609 N. Pollock St., was destroyed in October 2016 by Hurricane Matthew. Woodard said he hopes My Kid’s Club will receive a Golden Leaf Foundation grant to rebuild the facility.

The property is owned by Johnston County Public Schools and the school board would have to sign off on any new construction.

While Kannan said the Wayne County chapter of Boys and Girls Clubs, headquartered in Goldsboro, hates to see the Selma club dissolve, its leaders are hopeful the new organization will be a success.

“As long as the kids are getting served, if the new club does that, that’s great. That’s what we want,” said Kannan. “ The biggest thing is that there be no break in service for the kids.”

“This new program is in the best interest of the children and families of Johnston County,” said Woodard. “For the kids, parents and community, the transition will be seamless. The same services will be provided. My Kid’s Club will move to expand programs and outreach into Smithfield and eventually across Johnston County. This is an exciting time for Selma and Johnston County.

Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver said she was glad to hear of the clubs’ planned smooth transition.

“It is good that the transition from our Boys and Girls Club to My Kid’s Club will be seamless for those who are currently served by the Boys and Girls Club,” said Oliver. “The organizing partners that announced this transition are well-respected individuals who will provide professional guidance for My Kid’s Club. As an independent organization, My Kid’s Club may have more flexibility in its daily operation and  in its ability to  create programs tailored for our community.”

Oliver said groups like My Kid’s Club that provide after-school and summer programs lend important support to to the town’s workforce.

“All such organizations that provide educational and social support for our youth in a caring environment are welcome in Selma,” said Oliver.

Woodard said My Kid’s Club is reaching out to longtime Boys and Girls Clubs Director Mamie Moore to become director of operations for the new club. Moore has been director of the club in Selma since its inception.

Retired Selma dentist Dickie Parrish, a longtime community leader, said he thinks My Kid’s Club will be beneficial for Selma students.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to continue receiving the quality support established with the Boys and Girls Clubs program over the past 12 years,” said Parrish.  “The My Kid’s (Club) board consists of business and educational leaders that are committed to providing opportunities for the kids to excel in their personal life and their education.”

Parrish said My Kid’s Club will build on the foundation established by the Boys and Girls Clubs and will grow and provide opportunities for even more children in Selma.

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