11/09/04 — New, improved Boys and Girls Club opens in Mt. Olive

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New, improved Boys and Girls Club opens in Mt. Olive

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 9, 2004 1:58 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Multi-colored walls, game tables and "break-out rooms" welcomed dignitaries who came Monday to the dedication of the new Boys & Girls Club on Breazeale Avenue.

The Mount Olive Boys & Girls Club is a satellite of the Wayne County Boys & Girls Club.

For a $15 annual membership fee to the Wayne County Boys & Girls Club, youth between the ages of 6 and 18 can participate in special life-enhancing programs and learn character-building skills.

The new club is 4,900 square feet, a big change from the 3,000-square-foot building on Center Street in downtown Mount Olive.

At the old club, it was difficult for the children to concentrate on their programs, said David Bunch, president of the board for the Mount Olive club. The children at the old club were in the same big room with others who were playing pool, ping-pong and foosball.

The games will be in the new building. But now, the children can "break out" and go to three rooms for studying. They have separate places for computer work and arts and crafts, and now, the Mount Olive College students who come in the afternoon have a place where they can tutor the children.

It was a large dream, a dream that encompassed the work of more than 30 years for the volunteers who help out at the club, said Bunch.

"Our dreams come from deep within," he said. "We might be a small town, but we have big hearts and big dreams."

The club's board had wanted to expand the old building, but town officials asked them to consider a new club.

The club's board couldn't afford the loan payments, so the town board stepped up its financial support.

"They helped us dream big," said Bunch. "They supported us financially. They helped us buy the land and supported our efforts with the kids."

Several companies pitched in $35,000 each over three years to help raise a $41,500 local match to qualify for a $124,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office. The companies were Mt. Olive Pickle, E.J. Pope & Son and Southern Bank and Trust.

"Without them, we wouldn't be here today," said Bunch. "Without the grant, we'd still be back at the other building."

Rural Development has done a lot in Mount Olive for the past three years, but it can all be credited to U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, said John Cooper, the state director of Rural Development office.

He saluted Jones for helping bring $22 million in grants and loans to Mount Olive. He said it was because of Jones' determination and leadership.

Jones gave the credit to the volunteers. He said a town as small as Mount Olive or Farmville, where he's from, cannot survive without volunteers. There's always a multitude of them working behind the scenes, making the programs work, he said.

He said the new club can make a child's future bright instead of dark. The children who come to the club will be the leaders, the teachers, the caregivers, he said. "And the future will be sooner than we realize."

Grant Webber, president of the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County, told those gathered for the dedication that they're going to see better graduates, better young people and better citizens.

"Be prepared," he said. "It's going to be a good thing."