Boys and Girls Club soon to be newest addition to county.

Officials hope to see club open in August

There will soon be a home for a nationally-recognized organization with the betterment of Harnett County’s kids in mind.

The Boys and Girls Club of Central Carolina will soon have a place inside the old Shawtown School and plans to partner with other agencies within the building to find a place to operate.

The club will share space with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League, which has been operating out of the school and will provide an after-school program and a summer camp, according to Central Carolina Boys and Girls Club CEO Daniel Simmons. He said the program will start with a limited number of participants and then move forward incrementally.

“We’re looking at having an after school program and a summer camp where we’ll initially have about 100 kids on our rolls,” Simmons said. “What we do is we provide support for academics, character development, leadership development and also teach our kids how to live healthy lifestyles.”

He said the program will begin as a Monday through Friday operation from 3 to 6 p.m. daily, with a target opening timeframe of August.

“We also feed our kids a meal everyday,” Simmons said. “Then, during the summer, it’ll be all of that plus a lot of fun activities — field trips, a lot of educational field trips, a lot of intramural sports. And during the summer we feed them twice-a-day lunch and breakfast.”

Simmons said one of the goals of the club will be to offer support and assistance in accordance with what students are learning each day in school. He said plans call for tutoring as well as just making sure the homework assignments given to club members is completed.

“We want to make sure our kids are on a plan for success,” he said.

“It’ll be Monday through Friday for the school year and for the summer camp as well,” Simmons said. Club members hope to eventually have a seven-day-a-week program in the future, Simmons added.

The club has sought not only a place to locate the club, but also to raise the needed funding to satisfy county administrators of the viability and sustainability of the group for more than a year. In order to accomplish the goals they needed to reach, local businessman George Womble stepped forward and organized the club at the grassroots level.

He now chairs the club’s advisory committee. Womble was tasked with making sure the club had at least $220,000 available before moving forward.

“Today we have $225,000 in the checking account that has been donated by a family to start this facility,” Womble said.

As his efforts grew, so did the donations. Womble said he has received donations of a van and one unidentified businessman donated 20 percent of the profits from his clothing business to the cause.

“I’ve asked 18 people to be on an advisory board, 17 have said yes,” Womble said. “In fact, half of them came to me and said they heard it was starting in Harnett County and they wanted to be a part of it. So it is something that will really benefit Harnett County and we’re very fortunate to come under the leadership of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Carolina; they’ve got all of the organizational setup.”

While the programs offered will be open to any child in Harnett County, Simmons said at the outset most will probably come from the Lillington-Shawtown Elementary School area.

“We have to make some determinations, obviously space is finite and we’re looking to have no more than 100 members initially, we’ve got to vet out transportation issues with the school as well,” he said.
He said that they hope to see the club grow beyond it’s newly-found limits and bring the club to other areas.

“Hopefully, down the road we can grow this site, maybe grow into other sites in other parts of the city and the county,” Simmons said. “And who knows, eventually in another five or 10 years we could offer clubs in other parts of Harnett County. And that’s up to the support we get here locally.”