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Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland County celebrate 50 years at Main Clubhouse
Immediate Past President of the B&GC/CC Dr. Jack Weller stands in the Club's recently repainted Joe and Nell Harand Gymnasium that was made possible by a gift from Shelby Rotary Club Foundation.

Since May 13, 1971, the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland County Clubhouse has been an important place for young men and women to get the help and mentoring they need to go forward into the future. The building is soon to celebrate 50 years of being a special place in Cleveland County for young lives to be molded and changed, and they want everyone to come out and celebrate their half-century birthday with them.

Immediate Past President Dr. Jack Weller said recently they will recognize the legacy members of their founding members and long-time donors on Thursday, Nov. 18, during a "drop-in" event at the Main Clubhouse, located at 412 West Sumter St., Shelby. The Club's current president Rick Francis will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

"The drop-in will be from 5 to 7 p.m.," said Dr. Weller, "but the actual ceremony to recognize our legacy members and long-time donors and dedicate the Tony Izzi Exercise Room will be at 6 p.m."

Weller noted the Boys Club has been around since the 50's, and a local newspaper article from July 2016 on the Club's website mentions the Cleveland County Club - chartered by the national Boys & Girls Club of America in 1966 - celebrated its 50th anniversary that year.

According to the Boys & Girls Club's website, the Club then served only boys (hence the name) and the building in which they now meet had ground broken in 1970, with the actual building being dedicated in 1971. The Club went through a name change in 1994 when girls were allowed to join.

Weller noted the Clubhouse received a facelift in 2015 thanks to a $40,000 grant from Lowe's. They have since had further rooms renovated and painted, as well as adding a playground and garden area.

"The creation of the Tony Izzi, Jr. Exercise Room, complete with a climbing wall and interactive computer Exer-Game, was made possible by a contribution from the Hoyt Bailey Endowment, who wanted to recognize Hoyt's longtime business partner and friend, Tony Izzi, Jr.," Weller said.

The Club's mission statement says it all. It reads: "The purpose of the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland County is to enable all young people in our community, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens."

The organization serves 120 - 125 kids a day, Weller said. The Club has partnered with Cleveland County School district to serve Graham Elementary School, the

Main Clubhouse, the Teen Center, and the Casar community with After School Programs. Joshua Propst, Executive Director said,

"The Boys & Girls Club is working to open a fifth Club soon in Kings Mountain."

At the Clubs, Weller said the kids - many of whom come from single parent homes - can get their homework done, getting help with it, encouragement to do their best, and a snack after school.

This focus on academics results in around 82 percent of their total kids served being on the A-B Honor Rolls at their respective schools.

"Our staff is so supportive and giving," Dr. Weller said. "We all know that for our kids to succeed they have to feel safe, feel valued, and have self-discipline."

Main Clubhouse Program Director Robin Ledford, who has been with the Club for five years, said they have 40 kids in their K-6th group, and about 20-30 7-12th graders at the Teen Center. She noted the Club stays open until 7 p.m. "We have structured programs every hour to help kids develop their skills," said Ledford.

Dr. Weller said the Club needs "...people of vision in the community to step up and help the Boy & Girls Club continue to grow and to help the next generation."

For more information on the Nov. 18 event, or on the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland County or how to volunteer, call them at (704) 471-2582, or e-mail them at www.bgccleveco.org, or message on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ bgccleveco.

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