Headline: Boys & Girls Club to open September 5

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 9:00am News Observer

(The News Observer is a weekly newspaper published in Blue Ridge, GA)

B&Gclub to open

Representatives of the Fannin County Boys & Girls Club and the Appalachian Mountain Regional Campus Council have signed a contract for the club to use the Bonnie Higdon Reaves Campus in Epworth. Those present were, from left, front: Tom Jordan, Eva Raque, Michelle Brackin and Renee Lunney; and back: Jaime Petrillo holding son Wilder Petrillo, James George, Jane Brackett, Hope Burns, Glenn Chambers, Anna Speessen, Kyle Raque and Mike Bridenback.

Boys & Girls Club to open September 5



The Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia, 12 years in existence, will officially launch its Fannin County club Tuesday, September 5, for middle schoolers.

The Appalachian Mountain Regional Campus Council (AMRCC), with the Fannin County Boys & Girls Club made things official by signing its contract Wednesday, August 2, in the conference room at the Bonnie Higdon Reaves Campus.

Executive Director Michelle Brackin sat with AMRCC President Tom Jordan to put pen to paper for the initial launch of the 50-member Fannin County Middle School phase.

The AMRCC has installed a new HVAC system in the Fannin club building and closed in bathrooms to the joining building for increased security measures.

Local community support and advisory council fundraising is the backbone to opening up a facility. “We will hold open registration August 29 through 31 followed by open house Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Bracken said.

By the summer of 2018, Brackin and Director Patsy Shedd Reed plan to launch a second phase to bring in elementary-age children.

Children served through the club are based off child sponsorships. Initial hopes in serving 125 children was an aggressive goal. Plans to renovate the library and science area for a teen club and additional programs this year will allow for summer expansion, Brackin said.

Targeting middle school as a starter to the Club helps develop the Torch Club, which provides peer assistance and junior staff or leaders in training who may help down the road in high school.

Brackin said, “During this age, children are experiencing hormonal changes at a fast rate. Their minds are becoming focused on topics they formerly had no interest in.” The programs offered daily in the club give student members something to focus on.

“Given the right guidance and assistance, these children are ripe for development,” Brackin said. Middle school aged children can realize their potential, leap to new heights and begin to affect their environments in profound and rewarding ways when given good guidance, said the Advisory Council.

The Boys & Girls Club’s mission of enabling all young people, especially those who need them the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens is their primary goal.

The following five core areas are some of the programs offered in the club: Character and Leadership, Education and Career Development, Health and Life Skills, Arts and Sports and Fitness and Recreation.

The Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia reported studies showing that students who spend time in after school programs are 43 percent less likely to drop out of school, 51 percent less likely to use drugs and 26 percent more likely to graduate college.

In an email to the Higdon Family Website, Jane Brackett (in photo above) states: I did want to explain a little about the Higdon connection.  The article above  concerns the Bonnie Higdon Reaves campus in Epworth GA.  ...  Before her death, my aunt, Bonnie Higdon Reaves, set up an endowment for scholarship funds for this facility which has housed several colleges and provided educational opportunities for area students since 1992.  Many scholarships have been provided from these funds in the past 25 years.  My uncle, Charles E. Higdon, as well as his brother Reese, have also contributed scholarship funds.  Charles left the majority of his estate to be used for upkeep of the campus, as well as some scholarship funds.  The Appalachian Mountain Regional Campus Council, Inc. (AMRCC) was formed in 1991 to lease the former Epworth school buildings and grounds from the Fannin County school board to offer educational programs in the local community.  AMRCC has been responsible for the facility’s care and maintenance for the past 25 years.  The council also manages the funds given by Bonnie, Charles and Reese.  My mother, Rachel Higdon, was on the council for many years, and I have been an active member since her death in 2005.  Mina Higdon Floyd, a former HFA member, served as Treasurer for many years.  Since our council has not had a full time occupant in one of the main buildings since 2010, we are so thrilled that the Boys & Girls Club of Fannin County will be conducting their program there.  Our AMRCC council has just completed some major renovations to the building, (new heating and air conditioning systems, restroom remodeling, and additional handicap access), and are leasing it to the Boys & Girls Club at a very nominal cost this year.  We are also providing $6,000 in scholarship funds for needy children to be able to attend their after-school program this year.  If it were not for the generosity of Bonnie and Charles, the council would not have been able to provide the Boys & Girls Club a facility for their programs and assist in their start up.

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