B&G Club supporters at banquet will meet new executive director

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015

B&G Club supporters at banquet will meet new executive director

By Rita Howell
The new director of the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Mississippi said last week she wants to continue the partnerships and programs that have served children and young people since the local club was established in 1999.

LaTasha Rice, 40, began working as the club’s executive director earlier this month, and this week finds herself preparing for the unit’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Steak and Steak Banquet, planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Batesville Civic Center.

“We’re expecting 300 to 350 people,” she said. “In the program we’ll be showing off the talents of the students.”

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Rice, a Chicago native, is no stranger to the local club. She’s lived in Panola County for nine years and has served as a volunteer mentor for children at the club. She succeeds longtime executive director Belinda Morris who is now community development officer at First Security Bank.

Rice came to Panola as a district sales manager for Avon.

She’d come to Mississippi after high school to attend college at Jackson State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in health and physical education.

Now she’s the president of the Panola County JSU Alumni chapter. Rice is also active with Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Mississippi Delta Chapter of The Links Incorporated.
She’s married to Adrian Rice, and she’s the mom of three: Michael Myers, 12; Adriana Rice, 4, and Addison Rice, two months.

The Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Mississippi serves 40-50 children after school every day, she said, with a program that mixes academics, computer technology, art, music and sports. A total of 200 youngsters are now being served through various programs sponsored by the club, including a twice-a-month Teen Night. On the first and third Tuesday nights of each month, a different church plays host, providing transportation to the club for anyone who wants to attend. The target ages are 13-18.

For each Teen Night there’s a topical discussion, followed by games of pool, basketball, or other activities. Discussion topics have included abstinence, personal responsibility, and health and fitness.

Rice said the club will continue to work with the South Panola School District’s tutoring program. Currently two tutors are working regularly with children at the club who qualify for the service.
The new director plans to reorganize leadership development programs for the club members, and resume mentoring programs.

The club will continue its participation in the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation baseball program, she said.

Operation of the programs at the Boys and Girls Club requires help beyond the six paid full and part-time staff members.

“We have some great volunteer partners,” she said, naming the Junior Auxiliary, Young Professionals of Panola, GE Aviation and Job Corps.

In addition, about ten individuals are committed, regular volunteers at the club.
The staff includes Dennis Hoskins, unit director; Adriana Ellis, fiscal officer and branch administrator; Brinda Chapman, computer technology teacher; Rhonda Leland, arts and crafts; James Jones, fitness and sports.

Steak and Steak Banquet
A Boys and Girls Club alum now serving in the Mississippi Legislature will be the speaker for the Steak and Steak Banquet Thursday night. Rep. Jeramey Anderson, 23, of Moss Point is the youngest person ever elected to the state legislature, having won the position of District 110 Representative in 2013. He attends Tulane University.

An alum of the Boys and Girls Club of Jackson County, he was that club’s Youth of the Year for 2010..

In addition to the traditional steak dinner, the evening will include performances by club members.

Tickets are $55 each and are available at the club or the Civic Center. Call 578-7309 for information.