Clubs focus on changing lives

Published 8:07 pm Saturday, July 26, 2014

Key people behind the Boys and Girls Clubs of Beaufort County want to make one thing clear, their mission is not cheap daycare.

The misconception about the program is one supporters are working hard to dispel.

What the Boys and Girls Club is really about, they say, is changing children’s lives.

Two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington credits the club for inspiring him to dream big as a youth in Mount Vernon, N.Y.

Actress, singer and dancer Jennifer Lopez developed her performing arts skills at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx, N.Y.

Olympic gold medalist Shaun White enjoyed meals and homework help at his hometown club in California before becoming one of the world’s most popular X-Games athletes.

But you don’t have to look to far-off celebrities to understand the importance of the work done by our local Boys and Girls Clubs.

Just ask 14-year-old Messiah Hopkins. The local “Youth of the Year” shared his testimony at a club program earlier this month. Hopkins counts on the club for additional structure and support. He said it helps offset the challenge of navigating his teenage years with an incarcerated father.

Ask volunteer Sherry Elder. When she could be anywhere else but the Boys and Girls Club, Elder spends afternoons slugging through homework with kids that some might say aren’t her problem. But without Elder and others like her, so many kids in our community would be let down.

Ask local attorney Steve Stephenson. He’s been involved with area Boys and Girls Clubs for nearly 25 years. Stephenson says a quote attributed to Frederick Douglass sums up the mission of the club, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.”

Beaufort County is home to two Boys and Girls Clubs, one in Washington and one in Belhaven. Together they serve 125 members daily. At least 70 percent of their funding comes from individuals and private businesses.

If you’re looking for a place to make a difference, take another look at the Boys and Girls Club. Your investment, whether it’s time or resources, is sure to pay off.

For more information, call 252-355-2345 or visit


Ashley Vansant is publisher of the Washington Daily News. He can be reached at