A founding member of the local nonprofit, the Cartersville resident has served on its board for more than 20 years, during which he has accumulated a host of awards, including President’s Call to Service Award in 2009,a member of the organization’s Georgia Board of the Year in 1996, Georgia Board Member of the Year in 1999 and the National Medallion in 2000.
“It was a great honor, of course, but it’s one that I share with all of our other board members,” Hughes said. “They worked just as hard as I have over the years but I guess it’s just because I’ve been there since the inception of the club. So it is a big honor to me and I certainly appreciate it. ... [When the organization was] formed 24 years ago, I had two small boys of my own at that time and I just felt like it was important for the other kids to have some of the same things that I’ve tried to offer to my own kids.
“It does mean a lot,” he said, referring to seeing club members develop and succeed. “Some of the boys and girls have pretty much grown into young adults now and they have become productive citizens in the community. It’s still exciting because we are experiencing some new growth in the club and hope we’ll be able to serve the community in even more ways than we have in the past.”
Presented at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Georgia Area Council annual meeting on Oct. 17 and 18, Hughes’ award was one of four distinctions bestowed upon the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. Also receiving recognition were Hughes’ fellow board members Walt Sullins, Georgia Board Member of the Year, and Matthew Gambill, chair elect of the Georgia Area Council for 2014, and the Booth Western Art Museum’s Kids Cowboy Up Outreach Program won the State Program of the Year for Arts accolade.
“It is a remarkable time [for our organization],” said Gordon Gilley, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. “We’ve always been lucky with a dedicated board and good programs. A lot of our board members have been acknowledged with National Medallions and Brad’s presidential service award, those types of things over the years, but for these three accomplishments — four if you count the state award for our program as well — to all fall into place at one time is pretty significant for any organization in the state, but much less one that’s really one of the smaller ones.
“... I’m thrilled that they are gaining this much-deserved recognition. ... They want to serve kids and serve them well. I get to see the result of their hard work. Just like all of our board members, they are very selfless. They do what’s necessary to make sure our clubs run and run efficiently, productively, stick to the mission statement, which is to serve those young people that in a lot of cases have every opportunity to fail, to make sure that they succeed in life and become contributing members of our society.”
Started in 2004, the Kids Cowboy Up Outreach Program helps introduce youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County to the arts. Under the guidance of the Booth’s staff, the youth complete projects at the nonprofit’s Cartersville Unit that correlate to artwork in the museum as far as a theme or highlighting an artistic technique. The Booth’s outreach offering — which also serves the Hands of Christ after-school program — culminates in an exhibit at the museum, which this year is set for Nov. 12 to Jan. 5, 2014, in the Borderlands Gallery.
By having their artwork displayed in a public exhibit, the Boys & Girls Clubs’ youth are eligible to enter the nonprofit’s art competitions. Recently breaking unchartered territory, Janyah Lunceford is the local nonprofit’s first national winner with her printmaking entry titled “Northwest Coast Bird.” The Cartersville Unit also features two 2013 regional winners: Catilyn James’ “Pumpkins” in the pastel category and Carolyn Jones’ “Nocturnal Visitors” in the multi-color category. The winners’ entries were displayed at last year’s Kids Cowboy Up! exhibition.
“[It’s benefits have] been twofold,” Gilley said. “... [Through the Kids Cowboy Up Outreach Program, they] learn and enjoy arts and they’re exposed to different types of arts, but when they have a finished work that is on display in an exhibit in a world-class museum, it’s just a great self-esteem builder. It’s something that, quite honestly, our kids would never have the opportunity to enjoy and experience.”
Opened in May 1990 at the Goodyear Clubhouse in the Atco community, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County became the first chartered club in the nation to reach out to boys and girls with the name of its organization.
Currently, the nonprofit features two locations — 642 Henderson Drive in Cartersville and 127 King St. in Adairsville — and serves a total of about 245 children a day with its after-school program. During the school year and the summer, the units offer youth ages 6 to 18 supplemental education, cultural enrichment, and health and physical education.
“[Our organization] is a melting pot. It’s 6 to 18 years of age, the bulk of our kids are 6 to 12, male-female ratio is almost 50/50,” Gilley said, adding along with searching for a permanent location for the Adairsville Unit, one of the organization’s future goals is providing services to other portions of the county.
“It’s phenomenal how when we open our doors after school, if you attend the club or if you drive by, you’ll see just such a great group of fun kids that want to come in and have fun. But it’s fun with a purpose, [because] we expose them to our partners and supplemental education and mentoring and prevention and intervention services.”
For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, call 770-382-5500.