Help local Boys & Girls Club open doors

Published 12:11 am Monday, December 5, 2011

Submitted photo — Students at the Boys and Girls Club of the Miss-Lou work on a team-building activity during a visit from volunteers with the Alcorn State University Home-Extension program.

NATCHEZ — Brightly colored murals, patiently waiting classroom furniture and boxes of donated toys await children at the Boys and Girls Club.

But the children of Natchez cannot benefit from the facility at Margaret Martin School unless certified teachers and volunteers are there to guide them.

The Boys and Girls Club, like many local nonprofits, has faced difficult financial times in the past couple of years, BGC Director Fay Minor said.

And without the money to pay teachers for after-school tutoring, the club has been forced to close its doors at times or limit the number of children it can host.

“I have children saying, ‘Please don’t close tomorrow,’” Minor said.

The club not only sends children home with homework completed and exposes them to character-building programs but also provides a safe haven for children ages 5 to 18 after school.

“Kids have to have something to keep them occupied (at BGC),” Minor said.

“It’s somewhere safe to go and socialize, that’s so important.”

And when children have the BGC to welcome them after school, it also means they are not on the streets before their parents come home from work.

The club also encourages its young members to foster a sense of stewardship in their community by organizing monthly community service projects.

Christmas time is an especially important time for the BGC, Minor said.

“We get support from the community but we need so much more — not just monetary, but volunteers,” she said.

Minor said the club is always in need of volunteers, preferably adults, to act as mentors or help with homework.

Some young people, such as students from Alcorn State University, Cathedral School and Natchez High School have supported the BGC in the past.

“(The benefit of young volunteers) is just to have someone (for the children) to look up to,” Minor said.

“They think one day when I become a senior in high school I want to be just like them.”

A recently forged partnership with the Natchez-Adams School District will help ensure BGC opens more consistently. And Minor said she needs the volunteers to backup an increased number of students participating.

Volunteers do not need any special skill set, just a willingness to get involved, Minor said.

Mentoring has become an increasingly important aspect to the BGC of the Miss-Lou as well as clubs nationwide, she said.

And the BGC can also use other types of donations.

“(BGC accepts) any type of donations — toys, books, school supplies, furniture, notebooks, pencils, papers and bodies,” Minor said.

Donations can be sent to BGC to 64 Homochitto St., and residents can call the BGC at 601-304-5548 or 601–597-5992.