10/24/10 — Now, the Boys & Girls Club has game

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Now, the Boys & Girls Club has game

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 24, 2010 1:50 AM

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Boys & Girls Club Director Mary Ann Dudley points out the doors to the gym that were part of a renovation project begun several months ago when area businesses and community members combined efforts to spruce up the facility.

When 2010 began, Mary Ann Dudley was admittedly pessimistic about which way the economic tide would turn for the Boys & Girls Club where she serves as executive director.

Awaiting anticipated cuts from United Way and other sources, she speculated that her staff and board would have to get "creative" in securing funds.

"We always worry about funding -- you live and die by grants," she said this week. "We have grown into being. Not totally self-sustaining because we have to have fundraisers, but we have called on the community for major funding needs."

Board members have also played a vital role in the efforts, Mrs. Dudley said, crediting Rick Sumner, vice president, with introducing the Pig in the Park barbecue event earlier in the year and suggesting the name of a former resident who would spearhead a major renovation effort at the Royall Avenue club.

Dave Odom grew up near the Boys & Girls Club when it was located downtown. He played sports there and went on to play for, then coach at Goldsboro High School. Eventually, he became a college coach and was named coach of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference three times. He took on the mantle of motivating the community to support the club this fall. The two-month campaign culminated in a dinner in the club's gym earlier this month, unveiling the gym named in Odom's honor and an array of renovations made possible by the


In the Learning Center, a new countertop and carpet were added and walls and doors were painted; the boys' bathroom received a new sink, a new handicapped commode and urinal, a coat of paint, new lights, exhaust fan, hand dryer and self-flushing units; and lights added in the computer room and gamesroom.

The gym also underwent a major transformation, including new entrance doors, glass backboards on the basketball goals replacing the wooden ones, and the addition of air conditioning.

"To have air conditioning in the gym is like Christmas right now," Mrs. Dudley said this week.

It's been a whirlwind of activity, she said. And definitely not something she could have predicted when the year began, or even a few months ago.

"We had a company that came up and renovated from the top down -- 42 years of dust have been removed," Mrs. Dudley said. "It was an unbelievable time frame. We coordinated about 14 different contractors and vendors. We were under a little bit of pressure but it came together very impressively."

"It's amazing what they did get done before the dinner," added Marvin Ford, unit director. "There were about six crews in here some days."

At the outset, the gym was shut down briefly because of the work, with part of the building out of commission for about three weeks and the Learning Center for about two weeks, Mrs. Dudley said.

"The staff really had to do some maneuvering in maintaining the kids so we could get the work done," she said. "We only closed down for two days, though, for construction and one for the event, the dinner."

What made the effort even more amazing was how readily the community responded when called upon.

"We really didn't set a goal publicly but we had hoped to raise a minimum of $150,000 for the wish list," Mrs. Dudley said. "As of Wednesday, we have $132,834, of which $35,000 is in-kind services of donations of product or labor.

"That was a pretty big chunk of money for this day and time. We're very fortunate to have had this kind of community support. ... Everybody we turned to, it was just an automatic 'Yes.' It's about the community who supported it -- they're the ones who made the difference."

From such efforts as paint being donated to people showing up to do the labor and businesses helping sponsor projects, it's been a wonderful thing to witness, she said.

And the real benefactors -- the kids -- are perhaps most grateful.

"They take pride in it, so are taking care of it," Ford said. "Some of the kids will say they're telling their friends. We had 161 kids here (Wednesday) ... They're happy and they say everybody wants to be at the club now."

"It's all for the kids," Mrs. Dudley said. "This is their second home. They spend a lot of time here."

Parents have also been impressed by the transformation of the club, which was built in 1968.

"Parents come in, they're amazed. They think that small fee (for membership) couldn't have paid for this," Ford said. "We're working on parenting classes and other opportunities to include parents, hoping the new atmosphere will draw them in. I think they'll appreciate the club once they get in the building."

Of course, as with any home, there are always more things that could be done to spruce things up or maintain.

There is already a to-do list for future projects, including lights in the multi-purpose room, administration offices and arts and crafts room, re-varnishing wood beams throughout the facility and expanding the teen center.

The club didn't even have a teen center until 2001, Mrs. Dudley said. Currently the Goldsboro Rotary Club has it as one if its long-range goals to tackle that area.

"One day the dream would be to expand the walls but that will be in the future," she said.  "We can have as many as 60 teenagers here at one time, but it's much too small. The teens are saying, 'Everybody got something but us.' We say, it's coming, just be patient."

So far, though, it's been about securing money and stretching it as far as possible.

"Because our wish list was really big and some things, we just took off the wish list. They can be done later," Mrs. Dudley said. "Any money remaining, there are some things that we'll continue to do, face-lift projects. Right now we're at an even keel but I think we have got more money coming in to help us."

The club continues to vie for grants, which are highly competitive but essential in sustaining the programs.

Another unexpected revenue source that may have a resurgence since the renovations is renting out the building.

"It has generated a lot of calls," Ford said. "For a long time, this was a good place for rentable space, with full kitchen, the space in the gym, large multipurpose room for family reunions or birthday parties, as long as it does not interfere with Boys & Girls Club programs."

In some respects, the recent turn of events has not only provided a new look but a new life for the club that serves Wayne County's youngest population.

"I think we have really surpassed everybody's questions or expectations that we could get so much done in such a short period of time, and with such enthusiasm and support," Mrs. Dudley said. "We're all in the question of how to make ends meet. We have just been fortunate and timing was right. Coach Odom agreed to help us, and that relationship will continue."