By Lena Mitchell | NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Booneville’s Boys amp& Girls Club, recently on the brink of a permanent shutdown, will return Oct. 31 – Halloween – with a revamped program.
The community has responded heroically to an appeal for support, said Unit Director Angelique Jumper.
“Every day since our community meeting we’ve had someone come with something to help us,” Jumper said Friday. “Yesterday there was a man who brought a load of sweet potatoes for us to sell. He said he didn’t have any money, but needed to contribute something.”
Jumper had called a community meeting Sept. 6, which drew dozens of people who were concerned that such an effective program might end.
“At the meeting I said I wasn’t coming to them because we were shutting down but because we needed to know they were ready to step in and sustain us,” she said. “They saw the things we’ve been doing and were so surprised at what we were able to accomplish with very little money.”
The unit had been operating on $13,000 in funding from the United Way.
Jumper had asked the administrative officer for Boys amp& Girls Clubs of Northeast Mississippi, based in Corinth, to calculate the budget they’d need to operate most effectively.
He came up with the figure $80,000 per year. After dividing Prentiss County’s population into that number he showed that if every person gave $3.02, the funding goal could be met, something very achievable.
After the appeal, Caterpillar Inc. made a $10,000 donation. A local attorney donated tickets to a Tennessee Titans game for them to raffle; a Denver, Colo., church which has supported them in the past increased the amount they gave; local churches in the community gave; the school superintendents offered support; the city continued to make its facilities available; and many other individuals and groups stepped forward with various kinds of assistance.
“People were saying ‘we need you to stay open,’ ‘we don’t want you to shut down,'” Jumper said.
The club activities are moving from the East Side Park to the alternative school building on Medical Drive in downtown Booneville.
“There’s no need for anyone to be concerned that we’re in the alternative school building,” Jumper said. “The day students there leave at 2 p.m. and we come in at 3 p.m.”
Other changes for the club include the fact that they will be able to operate five days a week, serving students in fourth through eight grades from 3:30-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday and adding high school students from 3:30-6 p.m. on Friday.
“I’ve been praying and praying for a way to get back and work with the alternative school children, and now I’ll have them one hour a week,” Jumper said. “Some of the same programs for Boys amp& Girls Club will build them up more and the teachers there are really happy to have us. It’s a blessing to be in that building.”
The club will no longer serve second and third-graders but is adding high school students. The club now will accommodate 40 fourth grade through junior high students and 15 high school students.
The club also has gained four new energetic board members, Jumper said.
“The best is yet to come,” she said. “These little diamonds in the rough deserve it.”