Boys/Girls Club

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Mississippi Belinda Morris (far left) discusses staff training strategies with Jim Clark (far right), the national president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Volunteers and board members came to meet Clark last Friday when he visited the Batesville Club. “I am here to support our local clubs,” Clark said. The Panolian photo by Emily Darby Williams

Boys and Girls president hears of financial woes

By Emily Willams

Jim Clark, national president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, visited the local Boys and Girls Club in Batesville last Friday.

He spoke with volunteers and members of the local club’s board of directors.

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“I want to spend my time hearing from you,” he told locals.

“I ran the Boys and Girls Club in Wisconsin for eight years and it was the most rewarding thing that’s ever happened in my life,” said Clark.

The Boys and Girls Club serves four million kids around the world focusing on low-income areas with the help of volunteers and employees.

The number one issue with these clubs is funding, Clark told the gathering.  

Funding shortfalls have been a problem with the local club. Units in Crenshaw and Sardis have closed, leaving only the Batesville club open to provide after-school activities for youngsters.

Board member Jimmy McClure said funding is low, but people are already giving what they can.

Clark said the goal is to lift the level of fund-raising, adding that nationally, 43 percent of the buildings are filled, but the issue is staff.

“Raise money and hire more staff,” Clark said.

McClure commented that “60 percent of the (local) budget is staff and payroll.”

The group’s wide-ranging discussion also included prevention of teen pregnancies, protecting children who have been sexually assaulted, and ideas for training the staff members and volunteers who work with the children on a day-to-day basis.