Nieces and nephews of Mable Hamrick Whisnant participated in the dedication program. Pictured left to right: Steve Clark, Rebecca Clark, Dorothy Clark, Emaline Beam (Whisnant's great-great-grandniece) and Millie Keeter Holbrook.
The dedication of the Mable Hamrick Whisnant Teen Center, located at 351 W. Sumter St., Shelby, on Feb. 8, 2018, put an exclamation point at the end of a journey from dream to reality.
It all started in 2012 when leaders at the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland County (BGCCC) realized the need for teens to have a place to be by themselves instead of being with elementary-school-age children all the time. The BGCCC and the Cleveland County School Board worked together to make the former Shelby Middle School Gymnasium Building available to be renovated into a new teen center. Six years later, the center is open for business.
"The teen center is a place where young people can be challenged, where they can get structure and guidance, where they can have their minds as well as their bodies remain active, and most of all, it will be a place where their futures can be shaped," Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford said in his keynote remarks. "We look forward to seeing how the young people who walk through these doors will have their lives changed in a positive way, such as making sure they have all they need to graduate, go to college, enter into the workforce or enter into the military. These things are a recipe for success and something that the staff here at the Boys and Girls Club have dedicated their lives to."
The dedication program was an opportunity to thank the major donors for their support of the project. Nieces and nephews of Mable Hamrick Whisnant were present to share about how their aunt was a caring and giving person throughout her life. Whisnant's bequest of almost a quarter of a million dollars was the lead gift for the Teen Center Capital Campaign.
"Miss Mable lived a very simple life. For more than 30 years she taught home economics to students in Newton and Lincoln County schools. Her love of children and interest in helping others were manifested in her gifts to several charities after her death in 2013," said Whisnant's nephew, Steve Clark.
The family of Dennis Ledford was also recognized during the dedication ceremony for the family's gift to renovate the lobby area of the new teen center. Ledford was the co-founder of the Shelby Shopper, along with his nephew and current Shopper publisher, Greg Ledford.
Other major donors recognized during the event were the Dover Foundation, the Paul & Margaret Porter Foundation, and Dr. Kendalyn Lutz-Craver of the Cornerstone Dental Associates.
By April Hoyle Shauf, Special to Community First Media