Trip to Washington inspiring to Boys & Girls Club youth

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 05:26 PM

For some members of the Vance County Boys & Girls Club, the national monuments and Capitol Hill only exist in textbooks and on television screens.

Evelyn Taylor wanted to help change that.

Taylor, Vance County unit director, organized the group’s first trip out of state to Washington, D.C., for 12 club members and three staff in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I wanted to get them out of Vance County and open their eyes to the different opportunities available to them,” Taylor said. “They haven’t seen what more is out there.”

Northern Vance High School junior Ledasia Taylor wanted to tour Georgetown University since she had never seen the school before.

When she is in college, Taylor said she wants to major in sports administration and minor in business. As a high school student, she is the manager for the boys varsity basketball team.

Taylor said she was impressed with the Georgetown’s architecture and the layout of the campus.

“I liked the way it was set up, especially with a church in the middle of the school,” she said.

The club members checked out all the notable monuments, including the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, the National Mall, the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Tyree Green, a Northern Vance junior, said the Library of Congress was one of his favorite sites because his group has a chance to look at important historical documents housed in the library.

The local club began several years ago when the idea was suggested at a community meeting in Greater Little Zion United Holy Church.

Shortly after the meeting, the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina was incorporated with 501(c)(3) status.

The Franklin County chapter opened in 2006 at the former Riverside Elementary School in Louisburg followed by the Vance County chapter. The Vance chapter began in 2007 at Rollins Elementary, Yancey Elementary and later Pinkston Street Elementary. It is now housed in the former Clark Street Elementary building.

The Granville County chapter opened in September 2012 in Mary Potter Middle School.

A $75,000 donation from Goodwill Industries, along with several other large donations, allowed the nonprofit to remain open in June 2012 during a period of financial hardship.

Before the organization experienced financial issues, the Vance County location served around 120 kids per day. Now, the average daily attendance is around 60-65 children.

Taylor and her younger brother Kris, who joined the club when it opened, have moved with the organization as it changed to different facilities.

“There is more space in this building and there are less problems with overcrowding,” Ledasia Taylor said of the old Clark Street school. “They give us more freedom here, too.”

Kris Taylor said joining the club has been an overall positive experience.

“I get help with school here and I’m exposed to things that I never have before,” Kris Taylor said.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.