By Ann Drinkard
A leaking roof, holes in the floor, holes in the walls, a lack of security due to broken locks.
These are the things that Michael Williams, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Jackson County, had to detail when they applied for the community block grant.
“We want the kids to have a place that they love coming to,” Williams said. “We knew that we had to have a new facility. So, we had to write for a community block grant and in that grant we had to tell all of the bad things.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Jackson County has a Commerce Unit and a Jefferson Unit. The Jefferson Unit was originally two double-wide trailers that sat in a parking lot, while the Commerce Unit is currently a small blue building that sits behind the city’s recreation department.
After raising a total of $1.9 million to fund the rebuild project the Jim Moran Memorial Club was created, replacing the original Jefferson Unit.
Williams said they didn’t have to take anything from the trailers in the move — the 7,000-square-foot facility came with all new equipment.
In 2012, when this facility was completed, Williams and the board of directors thought the Commerce Unit also needed an upgrade. Now, that facility is being built. Williams said they expect the project to be completed in December, allowing the kids and staff to start using the building at the beginning of 2016.
Williams stressed that this upgrade would not have been possible without the board of directors.
“We had a really strong board of directors — really strong board of directors. I want to say that twice,” Williams said. “They would go out and raise money to fund these facilities for 20 or 30 years.
“That was the commitment that this board of directors made and I stand behind them 100 percent,” Williams continued. “When you get these community block grants, the easiness of it is to cash the $500,000 check but you’ve got 20 years that you have to provide service (for after that).”
He said volunteers also have been vital. From the community service fundraising events to volunteering, it is all crucial to the success of their club.
“The volunteers are the most important part to a non-profit organization, I think,” Williams said.
How the Jefferson Unit got its name
When the building was under construction, the family of late Jim Moran worked out naming rights with the club to name it after him. Moran signed a distributor agreement in 1968 with Toyota Motor Company to bring cars to the Southeast. In 2001, Moran and his wife Jan were recognized by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America with the National Award of Merit.
On a wall in the main game room, a famous quote that Moran was known for proclaims: “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.”
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