Boys & Girls Club earns national recognition

Jul. 08, 2013 @ 05:28 PM

The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina, which has a location in Henderson, has received national recognition for its success in helping its members reach their goals.

The club, one of 4,300 across the country, was one of 20 to receive an award for Formula for Impact. To be recognized, clubs must meet guidelines to help ensure members achieve outcomes of academic success, good character, citizenship and healthy lifestyles.

Jerome Levisy, the club’s chief executive officer, said the club provides a safe environment, supportive relationships and opportunities for young people while engaging them in fun activities. The North Central area includes clubs in Vance, Granville and Franklin counties, with hopes of adding one in Warren County.

“Since 2009, we have served 1,500 girls ages 9 to 17 and there has not been a single pregnancy,” Levisy said while speaking recently to a group of Rotarians. “We have served 1,680 boys and there have been only two arrests.”

One young girl, in fact, recently served as a page in the governor’s office.

Levisy said since they moved into the former Clark Street Elementary School, law enforcement officials report that juvenile-related calls in the Clark Street area have decreased 62 percent.

However, much work is needed on the former school and grounds.

“We’ve done a lot of work since we moved in,” Levisy said.

A recent insurance audit confirmed much more will need to be done. There are deficiencies with the playground, including the lack of mulch under swings and other equipment, no fence and a defective blacktop surface.

He estimated improvements would cost about $100,000.

“We’ve got to make them or our insurance premium will go up, or we’ll lose it all together,” Levisy said.

In spite of these and other ongoing needs, Levisy said collaborations continue with other organizations and are a major reason for much of the club’s success. “We’re too small to duplicate services,” Levisy said.

He cited as an example a partnership with Henderson Collegiate Charter School, which uses the Clark Street facility’s kitchen for meals at the school. Rotary Club member Tom Church praised the collaboration, saying Henderson Collegiate students got better meals as a result.

Levisy said transportation and financial support were key factors in participation.

The club serves 70 children in Vance County, 100 in Granville, and 99 in Franklin. Vance County Schools charge for after-school transportation to the clubs’ sites; school systems in Granville and Franklin counties do not.

The summer participation includes just 30 in Vance County, but 120 in Granville and 85 in Franklin.

“Transportation is a problem in the summer,” Levisy said.

The Juvenile Crime Prevention Committee in Franklin and Granville counties, respectively, has stepped forward with more than $80,000 in financial help. Franklin provided $55,000 and Granville $28,000.

Levisy said he had no explanation for Vance County’s JCPC not providing money.

“I grew up in Boys Clubs,” Levisy said. “All the friends I grew up with are dead or incarcerated.”

He credits Boys & Girls Clubs with saving him from the same fate.

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