Nov 24

Boys & Girls Club hosts annual Youth Summit


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Over 700 eighth grade students filled the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 as they attended the 14th Annual Youth Summit. The event was hosted by Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County and was sponsored by Central Drug Store and Gift Shop. This year’s Youth Summit brought together all eighth grade students from the Greeneville City and Greene County Schools to help instill positive values focused on this year’s theme “Character is who you are when no one is looking.” This is a time where community leaders encouraged and supported the youth of their community by promoting good character and helping students get back to the basics of treating one another with respect. Eric Johnson, the Vice President of Youth Development at STARS (Students Taking A Right Stand) Nashville, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Johnson spoke to local youth about the importance of having character and how important it is to impact another’s life in a positive way each day.

In addition to Johnson’s work as a trainer and speaker, his experience at STARS includes both direct student assistance work in schools and program management. His training has taken him across the country speaking to educators, mental health professionals, administrators, communities, parent groups and student leaders. Over the past few years, through the Safe and Supportive-Schools initiative, he helped develop materials for the Tennessee Youth Engagement Summits. As he traveled throughout the state he trained students and educators to utilize youth voice to shift the culture and climate in their schools. His training for the STARS Move2Stand Leadership Training is geared to help students recognize the harmful effects of bullying and harassment. He has presented at National Conferences and Seminars on the “Rites of Passage” and Bullying Prevention Strategies. In 2005, he was a recipient of the Tennessean Top 40 under 40 Award honoring those whose commitment to community is an inspiration to others. In 2011, he was honored by his former high school as a hometown hero as one “Living Beyond the Dream.” He strongly believes that in order to teach young people, you first have to be able to connect to young people.

This year’s event included performances by the Step Cousins band featuring guest guitarist John Brown, the Greene County JROTC program and Debbie Shaw, a local Zumba instructor. In addition to the Boys & Girls Club, the following agencies helped to make this year’s event possible: the Greeneville City Schools, the Greeneville City Schools Education Foundation, the Greene County School System, Greene LEAF and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

Nov 23

Creating IT Futures, Memphis Boys & Girls Club Program is Aiming for A+


Briahna Chambers of Tech901 Briahna Chambers is accustomed to meeting a challenge, even those that appear to others to be impossible for her.

In college she broke 10 longstanding school track-and-field records. Her best event was the long jump, but it wasn’t supposed to be: She is only five-foot-two.

“Some of those athletes from competing teams were over six feet tall, and they didn’t expect to be beaten by someone as short as me,” Chambers recalls. “They sure were surprised.”

Now Chambers is attempting something just as daunting: Helping a group of mostly high-school students to achieve a professional IT certification in an after-school class.

Chambers graduated from Hanover College in Indiana with a degree that blended computer science and the arts. Today she is employed by Tech901, a new nonprofit in Memphis dedicated to augmenting the tech workforce in that city by training youth and adults.

The group has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis to offer the first IT training course at the Juice Plus+ Technical Training Center, established by the clubs in 2006 to help young people in need of opportunity to skill-up toward decent paying jobs.

Information technology has joined the culinary arts and logistics tracks at the center aimed at high school and college students ages 16 to 21. The students earn stipends ($200 a month for the IT portion) so that low-income students who otherwise would take a low-skill part-time job can take advantage of the higher-skills training instead.

The first IT class launched Nov. 12 with 30 students out of 115 finalist applicants, with a nice mix of boys and girls. Most are ages 16 to 18. The curriculum for the course is mapped to CompTIA A+, a comprehensive IT certification that covers hardware, operating system software, and trouble-shooting, preparing a student for a help-desk technician or other entry-level IT role.

Chambers hopes to move through the material for CompTIA A+ over the next five months. Those completing the certification will have a better chance of landing paid IT work, she says.

Given the strenuous pace of the course, Chambers didn’t mince words with candidates during the application process.

“Throughout the whole recruiting process I was very clear about what my expectations were,” Chambers said. “We’re treating this class like a job, and the students know they will be held accountable for their actions. In the workplace, if you don’t meet the standards set for you, you get fired.”

Chambers knows that level of intensity is unusual for an after-school program. But because this program is geared toward preparing students for real-world work, there isn’t room for compromise. “I’m not babying them. They actually appreciate that,” she explains.

Chambers grew accustomed to disciplined culture while growing up a military brat. She spent the bulk of her impressionable years near Fort Hood where her mother was retired from the Army and her father was an active-duty infantryman.

Near the end of her college career she considered applying to Teach for America and teaching in Memphis for a year or two before entering graduate school. Her boyfriend at the time (now husband) was looking to train for a teaching career at Memphis Teacher Residency. It turns out that the President of MTR, David Montague, is the brother of Tech901’s Executive Director, Robert Montague.

“Briahna will provide a wonderful role model for these urban high school students,” said Robert Montague. “Her dedication, education, and computer science work experience give her a unique ability to not only teach the CompTIA A+ curriculum well, but also develop the students’ work ethic and soft skills.”

IT Futures Labs contributed a $5,500 grant to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis in 2015 for instruction materials and is following the program’s progress to see what lessons can be applied to other after-school IT skill-building programs.

Tech901 and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis are going out on a limb to see just what these students can accomplish. And, so far, the students are responding to the challenge, judging by the comprehensive notes Chambers says they are taking in class.

“I would love every student to pass the A+ certification,” Chambers says. “I set the bar really high for them. That’s something I do in my personal life, and so that’s what I’m doing with them.”

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Nov 09

15th annual Wine Down Main Street Supports Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee

The streets were packed Saturday night with good-spirited patrons supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.

The 15th Annual Wine Down Main Street was once again a huge success on a beautiful evening with perfect weather, great food and fantastic wines to taste.

Two live bands and a strings ensemble entertained patrons, and 30 shops from Franklin Public Square to Fifth Avenue poured all kinds of wines Other venues offered beer. The VIP room at The Red House, an events venue on Third Avenue North, also poured spirits.

Food ranged from artisan chocolate to barbecue, Mediterranean fare to chicken wings.

The event helps support the seven Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee that serve more than 2,800 children from 5 to 18 in Davidson and Williamson counties.

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Nov 09

Boys & Girls Club Opening Branch in Strawberry Plains

5638b65663299_image“I think it was God’s idea,” said Brad Jenkins, President of the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club of Dumplin Valley. Jenkins was talking about the upcoming expansion of the B&GC into Strawberry Plains, where club numbers should increase by nearly 250 hopeful new members.

“We’ve been talking about this for nearly four years,” said Jessica Page, Executive Director of Jefferson County’s Boys & Girls Club operations. “It’s our mission to serve the entire county.”

While Page and the board were focusing on how to start up a satellite club in the west end of Jefferson County, Strawberry Plains Presbyterian Church leadership was discussing how their membership could provide a worthwhile ministry to the greater community. It appears God did put the plan in action.

In 2006 the church had constructed a huge addition that included a gymnasium with room enough for additional classrooms, a kitchen, a seating-and-dining area, and even a large stage where the church could hold theatrical performances. It is, indeed, a beautiful and spacious activity center, but most of the time, it sits empty.

The kids needed a place and the church needed a mission. How providential.

Page says it takes a lot to operate a club, and she is so grateful that this church decided to step out on faith to provide a place for young people in Strawberry Plains. Many of the children will come from Rush Strong (about half that school’s attendance), while high-school students will be bused to the club from JCHS.

There will be at least six full-time leadership staff members, with Miranda Peoples serving as Branch Director. Miranda is a former Club member and the 2011 Youth of the Year. She overcame many hardships in life to move forward, becoming a Carson-Newman University Honors graduate in 2015. She truly believes in the club and how it helped her, and that makes her want to pay it forward by working with youngsters who might need understanding, guidance and a helping hand.

Page spoke about how the club might utilize all the space afforded at the Presbyterian Church.

“There is a classroom where kids can get help with their school and homework, there’s an art room, a full size gym for physical activities, a garden where they can plant and grow some of their own vegetables, and each of these areas will have a dedicated director,” she said. There might eventually even be a cooking class where the youngsters can learn to cook the food they raise in the garden. The possibilities are limitless.

“We consider it a tremendous blessing that the church gave us a home,” said Page.

And from the perspective of the congregation: “The church is really excited about being the hub of this kind of activity,” said Tracy Cagle, Clerk of Sessions (body of elders).

Those with an interest in signing their child up for the opening Strawberry Plains Boys & Girls Club should remember these dates:

• Monday and Wednesday, November 2 and November 4 – sign ups will take place at Rush Strong each day, from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

• Tuesday and Thursday, November 3 and November 5 – Parents can view the facility and register kids at Strawberry Plains Presbyterian Church, 3168 West Old A.J. Highway. While they are there, they may sign up to volunteer and pledge their support for the Boys & Girls Club.

The club opens November 23 when afternoon buses brings the new members for their first day. On November 25, there will be no school, but the club will be open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. thereafter, Monday through Friday.

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Nov 02

Boys & Girls Club of Maury County Spruce Up Old Community Building


web1_BG-Club-Wall-Painting-on-Iron-Bridge-Road_3624_swtThe wall has been there for years.

“It’s ugly,” said Ulisha Blakesleay, Boys & Girls Club Teen Center director, about the retaining wall that runs on the right side of Iron Bridge Road just before Fairview Park in Columbia.

Blakesleay said it was there when she moved here as a fifth-grader. It was just a little way from her grandmother’s house, and she would pass it when she and her friends walked to the park. It has remained pretty much the same except to sport not-so-nice graffiti at times. Lately it’s been what she called an “ugly green.”

About a year ago, Blakesleay decided that wall needed a positive message on it. She wanted a positive message for the neighborhood, park and road.

“I wanted the kids that live in that neighborhood to have some pride … wanted it to say something positive about the neighborhood and to make a statement of the pride that comes out of that neighborhood,” she said.

“I wanted the kids to be able to put their voice on the wall.”

She began looking for someone with experience, who would be able to paint a mural on it.

It wasn’t until just recently that she found Rudy Sanchez, a local tattoo artist.

Blakesleay said her son, Terrell, got a tattoo before returning to college recently and put her in touch with Sanchez, who agreed paint the wall at no cost.

“The Boys &Girls Club pays for the supplies, but he doesn’t want recognition or anything,” Blakesleay said.

She said timing has been perfect because the B&G teen center temporarily is housed in the Fairview Park Community Center while renovations are being done on the West 8th Street facility

. The center was scheduled for completion at the end of the summer, but is now expected sometime in the first quarter of 2016, according to Chris Poynter, executive director of the Boys &Girls Club.

The teens have been to the wall when they are out of school to form a barrier to keep Sanchez safe as he paints, she said. A year ago they would not have been close by to do that.

“Mr. Sanchez has also been able to teach the kids how to do appropriate messages instead of ugly graffiti on a wall,” Blakesleay said.

Sanchez said it has been “a nice break away from his regular job — something different to do.”

The words “Knowledge,” “Pride” and “Dignity” and the Boys &Girls Club logo are now on the wall, but this week Sanchez will be adding a bit of the history of the area to the mural: the two east-side schools Carver-Smith and College Hill.

Sanchez said he should finish painting the wall sometime this week.

The teens from the center, who already have an Adopt-a-spot stretch of road they keep free of trash, have decided to keep this area of the road trash-free, also.

“People fly through there (Iron Bridge Road). Maybe now they will slow down so they can look at the wall,” Blakesleay said.

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Nov 02

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport Set to Honor Heroes with Dinner

The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport and the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council (TC-MAC) will host our 3rd Annual “Honoring Our Heroes” dinner to recognize heroes – past, present & future.

This year’s honorees include Military Personnel (active and retired), First Responders, Educational and Medical professionals and Club members. The event will also serve as a fall fundraiser for both organizations.

In keeping with a Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s long-standing tradition, all honorees will enjoy steak dinners, while patrons will be served burgers. Kingsport’s Texas Roadhouse, Stone Drive, is generously donating the evening’s meals.

The 40 heroes honored this November will join 80 previous honorees from our 2013/2014 dinners.

Program activities will include posting of the Colors, recognition of honorees, a keynote address by Kingsport City Manager, Jeff Fleming, and announcement of Veteran of the Year. Additionally, Boys & Girls Club members will recite the Boys & Girls Club Code and pledge of allegiance.

2015 Honorees:

First Responders: Fire Engineer Carlos Stabler, Fireman J.T. Osborne, Fireman Brian Gage, Detective Corporal Randy Murray, Detective Corporal Martin Taylor, Police Officer Seth Brumfield and Sullivan County EMS Fred McGrew.

Educational & Medical Professionals: Retired Superintendent Wallace Ketron, Teacher Shayna Painter, Dr. Brian Shafer and Sam Wiles, D.D.S.(retired).

Military Personnel: Bill Reed, Joe Cody, Gayle Carpenter, Jerry Reynolds, James Dobyns, Jason Sabbides, Michael Harman, Terry Smith, David Shield, Jesse Moore, Bill Kilgore, Ralph Burrell, Larkey, tyree, Gary Stidham.

Club Members: Lexi, Michael, Bobe, Grace, Cameron, Jessee, Skye, Carson, Josh, Brianna, Isabella, Seth, Adriana, Joseph, Skylar.

“Honoring Our Heroes” will be held Saturday, November 14, 2015, from 6-8 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport’s Eastman Center, the Club’s main campus off Stone Drive (between Rush Street and Pratt’s). Tickets are $35 each and can be purchased from TC-MAC members or by calling 423.230.4160, extension 231.

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Nov 02

Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee Inducts Six New Members Into Hall of Fame

On September 17th, six new members were inducted into the Tennessee Boys & Girls Clubs Hall of Fame during the Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee’s annual Area Council meeting. These six individuals were nominated based on their exceptional service to a Boys & Girls Club(s) in Tennessee whether through Club membership, board or volunteer service or service in any manner that directly benefitted a Tennessee Club or Clubs. Currently, 36 members have been enshrined into the Tennessee Boys & Girls Clubs Hall of Fame during the last six years.

The following individuals were inducted into the 2015 Class: David Roark of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mountain Empire, Delores “Dee” Hendershot of Boys & Girls Club of Morristown, Dugan McLaughlin of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, Perry Cooper of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Clinch Valley, Ronnie Jenkins of Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland and Sidney Boyd of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. Their individual biographies can be found under the Hall of Fame tab and under Class of 2015, or click on their individual pictures to be directed to their page.

David Roark Dee Hendershot Dugan McLaughlin Perry Cooper Ronnie Jenkins Sidney Boyd




Oct 29

Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee celebrate Lights on Afterschool

     Many children, parents and community leaders across the state came together on October 22nd to celebrate Lights On Afterschool Festival to showcase the achievements of afterschool students and draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs like the Boys & Girls Club to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon. Lights On Afterschool is celebrated nationwide to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America’s children, families and communities. In America today, 1 in 4 youth — 15.1 million children – are alone and unsupervised after school. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults. Lights On Afterschool was launched in October 2000 with celebrations in 1,200 communities nationwide. Today, more than 7,500 Lights On Afterschool rallies are held annually, attracting 1 million Americans and media coverage nationwide. Lights On Afterschool is a project of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs.

     IMG_0357 (800x533)Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County celebrated Lights On Afterschool with inflatables by Grand Rental Station, a healthy snack provided by the Greene County Health Department and booths from Frontier Health, Smoky Mountain Home Health and Hospice, Tenn Care Kids, Greene County Health Department and the Primary Prevention Initiative with additional activities from the Greene County Health Department on obesity and tobacco prevention. Additionally, Youth Builders of Greeneville provided their KidsPrint Program for youth to participate in. With their parents signed permission, Boys & Girls Club members were able to have a photo ID printed with their thumbprint on a license to ensure their safety in the event of an emergency situation. The Lights On Afterschool Festival featured numerous community leaders including Greene County Mayor David Crum, County Commissioner Butch Patterson, Field Representative Bill Darden for Congressman Phil Roe, Tennessee State Representative David Hawk and Greeneville Fire Department’s Chief Allen Shipley and John Craft.

     “Lights On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work that afterschool programs offer the youth of the community,” stated Scott Bullington, the Boys & Girls Club’s Executive Director. “It is a powerful reminder that the Boys & Girls Club offers a range of activities and opportunities to children and families. There’s no reason that learning should stop at 3 p.m., particularly if the alternative is unsupervised time in front of a television set, or any of the dangerous or unhealthy behaviors that can ensnare children in the afternoons.”  The Boys & Girls Club had 166 kid at the event this year and many others practicing in their football league throughout the community.  “We are really proud of all the activities that the Club hosts each year” stated Carla Bewley, a Boys & Girls Club board member, as she watched the activities for the event throughout the facility and in the front courtyard.  “It is great for the children to have positive programs and activities available to them like the ones at the Club and in other afterschool programs throughout the community” she added.



  Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley celebrated the importance of after school programs in school Thursday night. Kids took part in fun activities while learning skills like math and science. “We’re trying to emphasize what the kids have learned in school by doing fun stem projects. Today, they’re learning how to figure out the circumference of a pumpkin using a ruler and a piece of string,” said education director Megan Wallace. The Boys and Girls Club serves more than 7,200 kids at 19 clubs across Knox, Blount, Loudon and Anderson counties.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Dumplin Valley showcased their afterschool program by offering kid led tours of their facility to the community. Throughout the tour, participants and Club members engaged in a variety of interactive activities such as writing their favorite types of activities at the Boys & Girls Club on a designated board. Kids had a day of fun and play while also engaging the community in a great forum.


Oct 29

Fun incentive to do homework in Sevier County

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Bear Country Fun Park is giving kids in a Sevier County a pretty good incentive to do homework – an afternoon of free play.

Wednesday the attraction hosted the Boys and Girls Club of the Smokey Mountains. About 120 kids earned the right for a party and an afternoon of fun. They got to enjoy bumper boats, go karts and more.

Chase Houston is a manager at Bear Country. He hopes this program encourages kids to do well in school.

“The Boys and Girls Club does so much for the youth in our community. So when we got the opportunity to get involved in the Power Hour program we just had to get involved,” said Houston.

This is part of a monthly program. The kids must meet 75 percent of the goals to participate in the free party. The party happens every six weeks.

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Oct 05

Bob Kesling Honored for Volunteer Work by Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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University of Tennessee Vol Network lead announcer Bob Kesling received a prominent national award from the Tennessee Area Council of Boys & Girls Club of America at its annual meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kesling was awarded one of the highest honors that an individual volunteer can receive from Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Man & Youth Award. This award honors the exceptional passion that Kesling displays for the Boys & Girls Club movement with particular emphasis on Clubs in the state of Tennessee.

Kesling is very active in the Knoxville community and he and his wife Tami are parents of two daughters, Allison and Melissa. We all know Kesling as the Voice of the Volunteers, but for the youth at Boys & Girls Clubs across the state of Tennessee; they know him as a true Volunteer. Kesling was presented with the prestigious Man & Youth award during the Tennessee Boys & Girls Clubs Hall of Fame Dinner for his continued dedication and support to the Boys & Girls Club movement across the state of Tennessee. He has rendered exceptional service of passionately promoting the principles of the Boys & Girls Club movement to other board members, organizations and to the general public. He has served as a leader in interpreting and promoting Boys & Girls Club programs to others and has rendered professional and consultative support to Clubs across the state. His involvement has demonstrated passion and commitment to Tennessee’s youth.

Kesling has been a big part of the Boys & Girls Club movement throughout the state often being the guest speaker at various clubs’ events; however, his most notable work is in Greeneville and Knoxville where he has helped with dinners, golf tournaments, and various other activities. In Knoxville, Kesling has served as the master of ceremonies for the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame event and is a past chairman of the event’s board. He is a past chairman for the Knox County United Way’s fundraising campaign and is also involved with many other Knox County organizations. He has spoken at Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the state and for the Tennessee State Clubs annual dinner. Most notably, Kesling has been a tremendous aide to the activities of the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County. When asked over a decade ago if the Club could put his name on their annual Golf Classic by Bullington and board member, Steve Mears (son of legendary University of Tennessee Basketball Coach Ray Mears) to help raise interest in their local event, Kesling agreed, but stated that he did not want to be just a name, he wanted to help with the entire event, and help he did. Kesling has driven to Greeneville dozens of times over the last several years to promote and organize the event and has never missed a golf committee meeting. “Bob helps in all aspects for the golf event from start to finish and has been a driving force behind its tremendous success,” stated Scott Bullington, executive Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County. With Kesling’s support, the local tournament fields a group of golfers and celebrities each year. Many of those celebrities are former Volunteers greats such as Condredge Holloway, Eddie Brown, Dale Ellis, Reggie Johnson, Bobby Majors, Larry Seivers, Johnny Majors, Bobby Scott, Dewey Warren, Dane Bradshaw, John Ward and the list goes on. The Bob Kesling Boys & Girls Club Celebrity Golf Classic is one of the biggest tournaments in our region each year and has raised well over a half million for the Club’s programs and activities. “His association with the Boys & Girls Club has been priceless and he is a true “Volunteer” not only in his orange and white but, in the eyes of a child,” added Bullington.

Kesling is the Director of Broadcasting at the University of Tennessee and has been the lead announcer of the Vol Network since the fall of 1999. He is the radio play-by-play voice for Tennessee football and basketball on the Vol Network and also hosts “The Butch Jones Show” and the “The Rick Barnes Show” for the Vol Network television distribution. On Monday nights, he is the host of “Vol Calls” the weekly radio call-in show on the Vol Network. In addition to his on the air work for the Vol Network, he represents the University of Tennessee at various events and functions throughout the southeast and the nation. In his role as Director of Broadcasting, Kesling oversees production of radio and television programming for the University. He also works with UT student-athletes to help them develop communications and public relations skills. Kesling wears many hats in his work with the University of Tennessee, but he seems to be making quite an impact of the youth of Tennessee by being a true Tennessee Volunteer.

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