Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County gets makeover

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Robert Noles/Opelika Observer

Shawn Kirkpatrick
Opelika Observer

A new sign, paint, furniture and technology made for a major makeover for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County’s Teen Room at the Potter-Daniel Unit. The exterior of the property was also spruced up. Bushes were trimmed, the outdoor club doors painted and the parking lot relined. The facelift was part of the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) Martin Luther King Weekend Legacy Project.
The new Teen Room now has new computers, iPads with keyboards, SAT and ACT study books and software available to help further their education. Part of the renovation includes a stage to be used for special programs, as well as a platform for local business leaders to show what opportunities are out there in the community. Basically, everything the teens need to succeed.
“We asked the teens, ‘what are you looking for in a center, what would make you want to come more?’ They wanted a space that was away from the little kids that was kind of their own. A cool space they could go to,” said Betty Burns, Resource Development Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County. “They wrote down what they needed and wanted that they didn’t have. Resources and counseling is what they came up with.”
The Teen Room will be used by high-schoolers in grades 9 through12. Burns said it is a place where they can continue learning outside of school. “In order to do true projects for class, you really need technology at home to make a quality project,” Burns said. “What we found is they can do some stuff for school, but when they get home they don’t have the computer systems, they don’t have the printers. So we wanted to make sure we included that as part of our resources in the Teen Room.”
Burns said there are still misconceptions and challenges facing BGCA. ”One is that we only serve kids in the projects. We only serve lower income kids. That’s not true. Our doors are open to everybody. The second thing is recruiting and retaining teens. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s a struggle because there are a lot of negative things out there. It’s a struggle to keep them involved.”
Burns is a former “club kid” and knows the importance of having a safe place where kids and teens can go when there are so many negative influences out there. “When you get to eighth or ninth grade that’s where you make a big choice in your life of which way you’re going to go,” said Burns. “I’m going this way or going that way. We want to make sure they go the right way.”
All the renovations were completed Friday in time for a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the new Teen Resource Room. For information on club hours and after school hours go to www.bgcleeco.org

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