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Boys and Girls Club closer to reality

After years of brainstorming, a Boys and Girls Club for Pike County may be in the near future.

Gary Fox from KW Plastics, the city of Troy, and a board of directors have submitted a non-profit, or 501(c)(3), application to the IRS. The IRS has received the application and the board is awaiting a response, Fox said.

The Boys and Girls Club planned for Pike County is scheduled to open on Valentine’s Day.

“It’s an ideal time to open our doors and show the young people in this community that we love them and care for them,” Fox said. “We’re pretty excited about it. We’ve been working on it for the whole year.”

Fox moved to Troy from Ardmore in 2003, just before the Boys and Girls Club he helped establish in Ardmore opened. He toyed with the idea of pushing for a Boys and Girls Club for Troy, but the pressures of starting a new life in an unfamiliar town shifted his focus to work and family. Fox is also a volunteer children’s minister, has written a children’s Christmas book, and has four kids of his own, from 11 to 14 years old.

“I guess I got busy and put Boys and Girls Club on the backburner,” he said.

In Ardmore, the Boys and Girls Club helped unite local government, businesses, families and children, Fox said.

“It really was positive for the whole town and I really wanted that for Troy,” he said. “I know in my heart of hearts that if we can get something started here it would be really great for the community.”

Fox said the board of directors plans to hire an executive director for the Boys and Girls Club before the end of the year. That way, the board of directors can devote January to training the new executive and creating a list of members from kids throughout Pike County and surrounding areas.

“We can open the doors and celebrate Valentine’s Day in a big way,” he said.

The name of the new club will be the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties. Fox said the naming was an intentional effort to include and welcome as many children to the club as possible.

“This club will not be limited to Troy children,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that everybody knew that this club could be a beacon of light for the entire surrounding area.”

Board member and Assistant District Attorney Scherryl Harrison has been pulling for a Boys and Girls Club for about 15 years, she said.

“I guess I consider myself an advocate for children — and women, of course,” she said.

As the assistant district attorney, Harrison said she has seen many children work their way through juvenile court, only to end up as adult criminals. She hopes a Boys and Girls club will help break the cycle.

“You have to give children something. You can’t just say ‘Don’t do this’ — you have to give them something positive,” she said. “You have to be there for the kids and give them something to do so they don’t get into mischief.”

She also hopes the club will unite local artists, athletes, writers, and other aficionados as volunteers who can provide lessons or fun classes for local children. She is calling on members of the community to contribute their skills and hobbies to the club, she said.

“There’s so many programs and projects that we can funnel through the Boys and Girls Club,” she said. “I think it’s going to be just fantastic for our city,” she said.

She added that the club will help working parents who need a safe, fun, healthy place for their children to grow.

“Parents are working hard and they need a support system, too,” Harrison said she believes kids struggle with manners and conversation in a world of texting and Facebook. She added she would like to see an etiquette class or a letter-writing workshop at the club someday.

“Sometimes a child just needs someone to sit and have a conversation with them,” she said.

Ken Vaughan, the executive director of the Pike County Housing Authority, is another board member for the club.

The Boys and Girls Club will be located in the Joel Witherington Family Life Center, which is currently open to young people in public and Section 8 housing, Vaughan said. He said he is excited to open the facility up to the entire community.

“It opens it up for all kids to have the help and fun they need to have,” Vaughan said.

The Boys and Girls Club will also use the life center rent-free, he said. The housing authority has received a $22,500 grant for the Boys and Girls Club, in addition to a donation from the city for $833 per month for the club.

“Hopefully it will be a place where kids can come and learn and grow and socialize,” Vaughan said.