When Bart McFadden of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley spoke to the Fountain City Business and Professional Association May 9, the message twofold. On the one hand, McFadden and the organization have compassion and caring for kids in need. But McFadden added a business angle.
What is the economic impact of every dollar used in the Boys and Girls Clubs? According to a recent study, it’s $12.47 to every dollar. That includes club members growing up and landing good-paying jobs, paying taxes and contributing to the local economy. But it also includes dollars not spent to incarcerate juveniles, an impact that McFadden quoted as $120 per day per juvenile.
“We minimize the amount of time kids are unsupervised and can get involved in juvenile crime,” he said.
Of the 8,300 children served by Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, 91 percent come from single-parent homes. Kids on free and reduced lunch make up 48 percent of Boys and Girls Club members. Kids coming to the centers receive help with homework from certified teachers, hot, nutritious meals, and much more. Healthy, active lifestyles are encouraged, as are good character and citizenship.
“If I walk into one of our clubs and see kids on their cell phones, I know we’ve missed an opportunity,” he said.
Fountain City BPA’s Beth Wade praised all the programs the Boys and Girls Clubs provide, saying, “It’s truly amazing. It’s not just a daycare.”
Additional programs include:
- Regal Entertainment Group Teen Center, which opened in 2016. The center provides a place of belonging for teens, plus career education, college readiness, and internships.
- Pipeline, a program that targets first-generation college students in local schools, providing them with tutors, counselors and career support. The program has boasted a 100 percent four-year graduation rate.
- TRiO works with 500 students at Austin-East and Fulton high schools who need more help to graduate on time, providing additional advisors and tutors. Four-year graduation rate is 97 percent.
- YouthForce is a comprehensive workforce development program that placed 160 young people in paid internships last year.
Wade and McFadden encouraged everyone to get involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs, or even just tour one of their facilities.
Featured Business: Fountain City Jewelers
Mark Enix of Fountain City Jewelers bought lunch for the group and was rewarded with time to speak about his business. Fountain City Jewelers opened in 1999, and it’s been in the same shopping center all that time, although in a different unit at first.
“I’ve been doing this all my life,” he said. “It’s amazing how things have changed so much.”
Now, he can create custom jewelry in a CAD program that produces 3-D images, so couples can make sure they have the exact ring they want. He also mentioned that Mothers Day was just four days away, and Fountain City Jewelers has plenty of gifts under $100.