On a recent visit to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County in Greenville, N.C., I met with several staff and board members, including Board President Steve Stephenson. A native of eastern North Carolina, Steve’s been a Club volunteer for nearly 25 years. His enthusiasm for our mission is so compelling, I asked him to share his story and vision for Pitt County Clubs. Steve’s post appears below.
It is a great honor, responsibility and opportunity to serve as president of the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County. This is my second tour of duty as president, the first one-year term being in 1995. All told, I’ve been involved with Pitt County Clubs for 24 years. It is in my blood. I do not plan to go away soon.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County, Inc. has served thousands of children in our community since its establishment in 1969, changing countless lives for the better. In recent years, the organization has grown from one Club serving 200 children day, to eight Clubs in three counties serving approximately 1,000 children per day.
Pitt, Lenoir and Beaufort Counties provide our Clubs with extraordinary resources, financial and otherwise, to serve and better our children. As board president, I feel a duty to ensure our Clubs are changing the lives of our children. We strive to effectively steward those resources in advancement of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Formula for Impact and accordingly its focus on academic success, strong character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles.
Nationally, 22 percent of America’s children live in poverty. Sadly, these figures are even higher in Pitt County, where more than 1 in 4 children lived in poverty between 2006 and 2010.
Children who attend our Clubs regularly are in our care for as much time as they are in the care of our schools. Accordingly, we cannot waste that opportunity to impact their academic achievement. We simply have to provide life-changing experiences, and I feel a responsibility to ensure that we do that.
As I see it, our organization has the opportunity to do nothing less than change the lives of an entire generation of children in eastern North Carolina. Over time, we could grow to 25 to 30 Clubs across the region serving 5,000 to 10,000 children a day in 10 or more counties.
By taking steps to grow regionally, we have an opportunity to impact more children. By building stronger children, we can improve the prospects for economic prosperity and quality of life for the entire region. To accomplish this, our board recently adopted six commitments:
- Provide fun, engaging, high-quality programs that promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.
- Collaborate seamlessly with public schools, employers and the faith community.
- Maintain a strong and engaged board.
- Increase revenue and develop diverse revenue streams.
- Build a team of highly trained, well-compensated professionals.
- Never compromise on quality.
Recently, we received a significant boost to our already strong momentum when Jim Clark and Lorraine Orr, senior vice president of Organizational & Executive Development Services for BGCA, visited our organization. We had a great day, as Jim and Lorraine met with our staff, visited three of our Clubs, and attended a reception with our board and some significant donors. Watching Jim light up when talking to the children was heartwarming and quite motivating. His passion for the cause is very obvious.
Jim gave an interview to our local newspaper, The Greenville Daily Reflector, and the resulting article was superb publicity for our organization. The next day, after reading the article, a previously unknown donor contacted us to let us know that he would like to make a gift of $10,000 to our organization. All in all, Jim and Lorraine's visit was very inspiring to all of those associated with our organization.
At the age of 55, with thoughts of how I might leave eastern North Carolina a better place, I cannot conceive of a better opportunity than that presented to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt, Lenoir, and Beaufort Counties: the opportunity to change the lives of a generation of children in the region. Every time I think about this opportunity, I become covered with goose bumps.