DAR Shines a Light on Boys and Girls Club of Dumplin Valley

Martha Dandridge DAR Boys and Girls Club Christmas 2At Christmas, some kids do not have a sweet time at home, but there are people who make it sweet by investing in Boys and Girls Clubs, according to Jessica Page, Executive Director and CPO for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dumplin Valley.

A veteran of 18 years with the Clubs, Page says that some time back she gave up on preparing a script when she is asked to give a speech. Instead, she asks God to give her words, and He gave her lots of meaningful words to share at the December meeting of the Martha Dandridge Washington (MDW) Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR).

Page explained that no matter what parents have or don’t have, all children are welcome at the BGCDV, a place where they feel that they belong and usually meet a Ms. or Mr. with whom they develop a close mentoring relationship.

The Clubs started with one little room in a library and have grown to four big rooms in four locations. In Strawberry Plains, Summer McCowan (865-898-6211) is the interim director of the group that meets at the Strawberry Plains Presbyterian Church. In White Pine, the director is Miranda Peoples (865-761-0143), a graduate of Carson-Newman University. That club meets in the former Food City building on Circle Drive. Jefferson City’s club is led by director Caleb Ketring (865-471-0733) at Ruritan Park. Finally, Will Marshall (423-623-6536) heads up the Newport club which meets in the Housing Authority Building.

For more than 100 years, the Boys and Girls Clubs have been the #1 youth organization in America. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dumplin Valley serve an average of 1,126 kids from age 5 to 18. They provide meals consisting of supper and a snack to 250-260 children per day. They provide 5000-6000 such meals per month. During the summer months when the kids are out of school, the Clubs also serve breakfast. In the winter, the meals consist of packaged foods that last and can be taken home. However, during the summer, fresh foods are served.

On a normal school day, the doors are open from after school to 7:00 p.m. When school is out for a break or for bad weather, the doors open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Page admitted that the club houses are noisy places, but kids usually like the noise because it means lots of activities are going on. One reason the groups are loud is that most of the branches are at capacity. Page is working on getting a grant to extend the building at Ruritan Park on Route 92 because the Jefferson City branch has a wait list of 4 months. Ideally, the club should meet at a location in town so kids can walk there. However, all of the Clubs are tremendously blessed to be given the space they have to meet.

In addition to play, the Clubs offer counseling in many areas. Page noted that in her first year with the Clubs, she went nose to nose with a child who was determined not to participate. She did not give up on the strong-willed young person, and later that young adult became a director.

The BGCDV always have needs that are enumerated on the wish lists published on the Clubs’ website. To help supply some of those needs, the MDW chapter showered the Clubs with items found on the wish lists and with Walmart gift cards.

As always, cash donations are very welcome. Page said, “I want to move from the season of having to scratch to keep our doors open.”

Another important way to help is to volunteer to work with the children in the Clubs. Page added that mature volunteers who have had many life experiences to draw from make their service of special value to the children.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Jessica Page at (865) 924-3612 or e-mail her at jpage@bgcdumplinvalley.org. Volunteers can also call the directors of the branches at the numbers given in the article above.

The next meeting of the DAR chapter will be January 13 at 10:00 a.m. in the First United Methodist Church in Dandridge. As that will be the annual business meeting for the chapter, there will be no guest speaker. On February 10, Emily Robinson, Second Vice Regent of the Tennessee Society Daughters of the American Revolution (TSDAR), will speak on “Washington’s Other Army: Women of Valley Forge.”

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014