02/15/04 — Ceremony marks start of new facility for Boys & Girls Club

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Ceremony marks start of new facility for Boys & Girls Club

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 15, 2004 2:01 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive might have a new Boys & Girls Club next to the old Carver School by the time children get out of school for the summer.

That was the expectation expressed during a groundbreaking ceremony held Friday at the job site where the new club will be constructed by Johnson-Russell Construction Co. of Goldsboro.

David Bunch, a member of the Wayne County Boys & Girls Club and chairman of the club in Mount Olive, told the group gathered for the groundbreaking that he hopes the job will be finished in June.

The new 4,900 square-foot building will have break-out areas for computer work and arts and crafts so the children can focus better on their programs, which are very structured, Bunch said. This will be a huge improvement, he said. The club's current building is one big space where the instructors have to compete for the children's attention. In the new club, he said, they won't have to compete with the pool tables any more.

"The town of Mount Olive deserves special thanks," said Bunch. Club officials had been looking at adding onto the old club several years ago. Several town leaders came to them and said, "Have you considered building a new club?"

The Boys & Girls Club people said, "Oh, it's a nice dream."

"In their wisdom and vision, they said, 'Let's think outside the box,'" said Bunch.

He thanked Mary Ann Dudley, the county director, who was instrumental in building the club's resources. She acquired a grant for 13 new computers and is getting high-speed Internet access.

About 40 children come to the club every day during the school year, and that number doubles in the summer.

Students from Mount Olive College come to the club in the afternoons to help tutor the children. Bunch said 98 percent of the children who come to the club in Mount Olive are disadvantaged. They qualify for free lunch at school. More than half of the children at the club are from single-parent homes. Some of the parents have two and three jobs and can't help with homework, he said.

The $350,000 project is being done using a $175,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ed Causey with USDA Rural Development said Mount Olive is an innovative community, and the Boys & Girls Club is a remarkable organization. He said he's proud to be associated with the town and the organization.

The club is getting ready to launch a Capital Fund project to raise $75,000 over three years. "We think the goal is achievable," said Bunch.

The building of a new club building shows strong leadership, said State Sen. John Kerr, who is also a board member of the Wayne County Boys & Girls Club.

Kerr praised Bunch for his tenacity. "He got hold of this thing and pushed it through when everybody else was talking about it."