Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County's Adairsville Unit reaches new heights

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After serving the community for more than a decade, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County’s Adairsville Unit has found a place to call home. Currently occupying a building owned by Georgia Power, the nonprofit has secured a permanent location at 104 N. Main St.

“We’ve been looking since we moved in 12 years ago at the temporary location," said Gordon Gilley, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County. "We’ve been earnestly looking for a permanent location that fit [the] needs of our members and their families. Three years ago, we were approached by the city of Adairsville. [City Manager] Pam Madison — she had a vision for the development of Adairsville and included in that was a prime location for a new Boys & Girls Club, because obviously [a new facility was] desperately needed.

“The one we have now is a good environment. The staff does great things, but it’s limited with little to no outdoor activity space. [It is] not really set up for a Boys & Girls Club. … [The new facility] is going to be great — a new building built to our [specifications at] a prime location in the heart of Adairsville.”

Following a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, construction at the new site is expected to begin immediately, with the Adairsville Unit tentatively taking occupancy of the building in late 2019.

Once complete, the new facility on 2.5 acres will be 5,000 square feet, doubling the size of its existing structure.

“It’s exciting not only for us and what we’ll be able to do for our members and existing members, but we’ll increase capacity,” Gilley said. “The clock is ticking on the process, and now we think within six to nine months we’ll have a facility. So we’re excited. The community’s excited. The city, the county, all of our sponsors, our members are elated.

“… Although a permanent facility — one made specifically for a Boys & Girls Club is needed and will be appreciated, we’ve been serving kids in Adairsville for 12 years — a lot of kids and serving them well. This new facility … will provide us not only a — right off the bat — 5,000-square-foot facility, but ample outdoor and multi-use space. Ultimately, we want to build a gymnasium in Phase II. … We’ll have a tech center. We’ll have a learning center, a dedicated art room.”

Opened in May 1990 at the Goodyear Clubhouse in the Atco community, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County now features two locations — 642 Henderson Drive in Cartersville and 127 King St. in Adairsville — and serves about 200 children a day ages 6 to 18 with its after-school program. During the school year and the summer, the units offer youth educational and cultural opportunities, and activities, like basketball, and arts and crafts.

In Adairsville, the nonprofit features about 75 members during the school year and 115 in the summer.

Totaling $1.2 million, the Adairsville Unit’s relocation project was boosted by the city of Adairsville’s support and a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

According to a news release from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, “The city of Adairsville is the primary project sponsor, providing the land and additional funding, [and] Bartow County provided the site work. [The project also was assisted by] the United Way of Bartow County [providing] a ‘lead capital gift’ along with operational funding [and] Wilson Engineering and Southland [Engineering] providing engineering and surveying services, along with several corporate partners providing products and contributions.” Carter Watkins Associates Architects Inc. is serving as the project architect, and Ace Construction is the construction contractor.

“The city purchased the property in 2015 and received a Community Development Block Grant in 2016 to assist in the facility's construction,” Madison said. “The city's support comes from wanting to provide a sense of community. A new facility not only provides a much more prevalent place for the Boys & Girls Club to be situated, but it provides a facility that the community can utilize and be proud to have in their city.”

Still needing to raise $350,000, the nonprofit launched Phase I of its capital campaign March 1, with Adairsville native and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. and Gary Floyd serving as the honorary campaign chairman and the campaign chairman, respectively. Reaching out to the public, Gilley encourages individuals interested in supporting the campaign to contact him at ggilley@bgcofbc.org or 770-382-5500.

“For a vast majority of our members, Boys & Girls Clubs is the only viable service option,” Gilley said. “We’re a youth development agency, first and foremost. Supplemental education is the No. 1 priority we have at our clubs. About 98.5 percent of our kids will finish high school if they stay engaged in our clubs. … If you stay at our clubs as a teenager, the demands are high as far as being a mentor, being a role model for our younger members. Literally we work with the total child to hopefully have them evolve into contributing members of our society with a moral compass that are good citizens.

“… 2020 will be our 30th anniversary here in Bartow County. … We [have witnessed] young people turn into contributing members of our society that bring their own children back to the Boys & Girls Clubs now — the second generation. Not only are they good citizens, but they are employable. They are leaders in their community. They are civic-minded. It’s so encouraging to see that … especially when you consider some of our members have had every opportunity to fail before they became involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs.”

Along with the club finding a new location, the Adairsville Unit has another reason to celebrate, as one of its members was selected as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County’s Youth of the Year. A freshman at Adairsville High, Kylee Moody maintains a 96 grade average and is a member of the school’s SkillsUSA club. 

“She represents about 200 teens in our organization,” Gilley said. “Her participation, her involvement, her GPA, her mentoring, her activities in school, her tutoring and helping out [our] staff — [she is] such a positive young lady. [She is] very smart, very intellectual, but very approachable as well. … For Kylee to win this at the age of 14, it’s pretty significant.”

From March 3 to 5, Kylee represented the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County at the Georgia Youth of the Year Conference in Atlanta. During the three-day offering, she and her fellow 34 YOY participants from across the state, engaged in workshops; toured Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the state capitol; and visited with state legislators and Gov. Brian Kemp.

“I was both shocked and completely happy,” Kylee said. “Being named YOY for Bartow County made me realize all my hard work is paying off and being recognized. I have been a member of the Boys & Girls Club for nearly eight years now. The club has always been a positive place, where I can have fun, do my classwork and feel safe. The club has taught me to always do my very best and then given me the encouragement needed to do so.

“I am very passionate about assisting other members, because I wish for them to experience the same positive guidance that I have. It’s amazing to be able to assist in that even a little. I help with homework, crafts and basically all around playtime. I enjoy assisting the younger members, because I love being able to learn their unique personalities and stories. I also love to be able to watch them grow into hardworking youths.”

For Kylee, the Adairsville Unit has provided valuable guidance during her school years.

“The club has been such an important part of my life,” she said. “Really helping me to grow and develop the confidence to face challenges head on and thrive.

“I wish more people realized that the club is not a day care. It is a program that encourages skills and morals and friendship and acceptance, and in doing so creates stories like mine — stories of success.”