Brittany Houston has been promoted to unit director of the Columbus Boys and Girls Club. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
August 18, 2014 10:12:01 AM
The local branches of the Boys and Girls Club are shaking things up.
Former Columbus Unit Director Antoine Walker recently transferred to the Starkville location while former volunteer and club coordinator Brittany Houston was promoted to head up the Columbus site.
Nadia Dale, chief professional officer for the Golden Triangle Boys & Girls Clubs, announced the changes last week.
"I am so pleased to be able to work with two professionals who know the business of youth development," Dale said. "They both come with so many strengths that greatly benefit our organization. Brittany with her passion for delivering high quality programming and building strong relationships with our members and their families, Antoine with his keen eye for safety and facilities improvements. Both make one of the best youth development organizations in our area. Together, we make a dynamic team. I'm really excited about the growth that is taking place with our organization right now. It's our season."
Dale said the Starkville branch and the Columbus branch are experiencing a boom in numbers. In 2012, the Columbus location had 55 members. Today, they have approximately 80 members. The Starkville site is operating at capacity with more than 140. Columbus' total capacity is 150 children.
"An overwhelming majority of our members feel a sense of belonging at our clubs," she said. "I know how important this is as we all too often see youth make poor choices just to fit in and or to find a place to belong. We're happy our members find that with us."
Walker said a common misconception is the club as baby-sitting service. With programs ranging in names from "Passport to Manhood" to "Smart Moves and Smart Girls," the club is about molding and shaping the lives of children while creating productive citizens, Walker said.
"We're in the business of developing better youth in the community," he said. "We're not just a baby-sitting service. We are a youth development service. We're trying to develop better kids in our community."
Houston echoed Walker's sentiments saying, "It's trying to keep the kids going in the right direction, teaching them to be great and reach their goals."
The Columbus and Starkville clubs focus heavily on academic achievement, with each club hosting Power Hour every afternoon. Power Hour gives students the opportunity to get a head start on the day's homework assignments. Eighty-four percent of local members are on track for high school graduation, compared to a 78 percent Boys & Girls Club National Average, Dale said.
To help guide the students in the right direction, personally and academically, volunteers are always needed, Walker said.
"You'll be making an impact," Walker said. "A lot of times, if you just spend a little time with them, mentor them, it goes a long way."
For volunteer opportunities contact the Columbus location at 662-244-7090. The Starkville club can be reached at 662-615-9980.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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