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Boys & Girls Club Slated to Open Facilities in Lee County

Wednesday, 07 August 2013

Boys & Girls Club Slated to Open Facilities in Lee County

Originally published in The Item on July 17, 2013. Original article published here.

The Boys & Girls Club is coming to Lee County.

That was the message delivered at the kickoff of the Lee County 2013 Boys & Girls Club Capital Campaign Kickoff held at the Bishopville High School gym on Monday afternoon.

Alexis Pipkins, Lee County First Steps executive director and chairman of the Lee County Rural Leadership Institute (RLI), said Lee County needs to raise $60,000 to make the nationally acclaimed organization reality.

"We want the community to know it is our desire to bring the Boys & Girls Club to Lee County, but it will take a cooperative effort to make it happen," Pipkins said.

Jennifer Byrd, office coordinator at South Atlantic Canners and vice chairman of the Lee County RLI said the purpose of the kickoff event was to raise awareness and obtain the support of local government, businesses and individuals.

"The Boys & Girls Club provides life skills activities for our children after school, on the weekends and during the summer," she said. "We want this organization in Lee County."

Byrd announced that South Atlantic Canners is donating $1,000 to the capital campaign.

Fred Sheheen, of Camden, attended the kickoff as a representative of Francis Marion and the Leadership Institute.

"I don't think the state pays enough attention to the small counties," he said. "The way it is going, the state is going to be Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville and the rest of us are going to suffer."

The Rural Leadership Institute exists to develop leaders in nine counties in the Pee Dee who will establish projects in their communities to improve the quality of life, he said. Sheheen has worked with leaders in Lee County for two years, he said.

Sheheen also announced he is pledging $1,000 as an individual donation for the Lee County Capital Campaign.
"Lee County needs to raise $58,000 now," Sheheen said.

Lee County Council Chairman Travis Windham expressed the council's support for the Boys and Girls Club.

"Young boys and girls want structure," Windham said. "They want influence. They need the right influence at the right time. Lee County needs a Boys and Girls Club."

Windham provided data collected from an independent survey of former Boys and Girls Club members.

"Seventy-five percent of the responders said the club helped them to stay out of trouble with the law," he said. "Ninety-six percent reported that their experiences taught them to get along with others. Seventy-two percent said the club was important to their success later in life. And 57 percent said the Boys & Girls Club saved their life."

Decar Brown, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Club of the Pee Dee Area, said the capital campaign will generate revenue needed for operations of the club in Lee County.

"Every boy and girl needs a positive place to go," Brown said. "They need a positive adult influence. Lee County needs a Boys & Girls Club. Lee County can make it happen, but it takes dollars. On behalf of the Boys & Girls Club, we want to make it happen in Lee County."

Tawanaka Tate, Lee County Health and Human Services supervisor, serves as the chairwoman of the Lee County Interagency Coalition.

"This capital campaign for the Boys & Girls Club is also supported by the Interagency Coalition," she said. "We challenge everyone in the community to come on board and support this capital campaign."

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