GLASGOW – The Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County has a new director.
The club's board of directors appointed Mallie Boston to the position earlier this week. Boston has been employed with the club for seven years.
“She's continued to move up. This was a natural progression as Mary Lee (England) left and started another chapter in her life, which was by her account. We spent a little bit of time going through things, looking at it, talking to Mallie and charting a course, but honestly she probably charts the course more for me than I chart it for her,” said Patrick Gaunce, chairman of the club's board of directors.
England left the club in September.
Boston previously served as the club's unit director and oversaw the HERO Center, which is the building along Cheatham Street that houses the club.
Other positions she has held include behavioral specialties and safety coordinator.
“I've been in just about every area of the building,” she said.
Boston has several plans for the club's future.
“My personal goal is to make sure the boys and girls club is a household name for Barren County,” she said.
Boston also wants to continue as many programs and community involvement opportunities for the club's members as possible.
The biggest goal for the club in the coming year, however, is to improve technology for teens who are members of the club.
Boston would like to see an EA certified team be developed at the club so that its members can compete with other boys and girls clubs across the nation and around the world.
“It's a safe environment for kids to get to interact with each other, but it also allows them to see how you can set up a mobile gaming system,” she said. “It gives another level of organization and learning responsibility while letting play the video games at the same time.”
Boston explained that the club's members have expressed an interest in wanting to know more about technology and how they can use it to move themselves forward in the future.
“Obviously, we have great partners with Barren County with the SKILLS program and the Interact program. I know Justin Browning is always willing to help us with anything, so that's something that we are going to explore,” she said.
Several programs are offered through the club at the HERO Center and in Glasgow and Barren County schools due to grant funding. One such program is Positive Action.
“Positive Action is focused on creating positive behaviors and habits because obviously kids are going to face negative things. They are going to face adversities, but teaching them how to be positive through those and how to handle them in a progressive way is the whole point of Positive Action,” she said.
Starting in January, the club will be making its Positive Action Program available to Cave City. The club will also be operating its mentoring program in a community building in Cave City beginning in January.
“Dwayne Hatcher, the mayor, has been super welcoming to us and the school system, Caverna, has too,” Boston said. “There's obviously a need for more opportunities in Cave City and we're not a school system so we are not stuck on helping one side or the other. We want to be involved with as many kids and reach as many kids a possible.”
Hatcher said he is very excited about the club bringing some of its programs to Cave City.
“We are so excited about it. There is definitely a need in our area, and I just think it's one of the best things we can do in our area over here for our young folks,” he said.
Boston would eventually like to see a teen center for the club's members built that would offer a gym and a chef's kitchen, among other amenities.
There are a lot of teens and middle school-aged children who are members of the club. The club has a limited amount of space in which to serve those age groups at the HERO Center, and Boston said a separate building for them would be ideal.
“We have a waiting list that is the exact same amount of kids as we have in the building now. There's always more opportunities to serve them,” she said.
A separate building for that age group would afford them the space to do art, theater and other activities.
The club will need the community's support in order to construct a teen center.
“I think we have good momentum to make that happen,” she said.
The club entered into a lease with the Housing Authority of Glasgow to use the HERO Center in 2014.
In addition to the club being housed at the HERO Center, the housing authority operates its elderly services and self-sufficiency programs there and the Glasgow Athletic Program uses the building's gym for its sport activities.
“We are so thankful for the housing authority, the school systems, the volunteers who come in, the people who donated and took part in this and certainly the staff, number one, because that's where the rubber meets the road,” Gaunce said.
Boston and Gaunce would like to see younger children, grades K-5, still receive programming at the HERO Center, but move the older children, grades 6 and up, to their own separate space.
“My goal would be to fill this space up with just young kids and then it's almost like a graduation into a teen center, so you are kind of taking them from start to finish and then hopefully, in the teen center there will be some sort of workforce development or resume skills (offered),” he said.
The space at the HERO Center that the club was using for its teens and tweens but has now become a sensory and mentoring area.
“We have a lot of kids who are on the (autism) spectrum and we didn't have a lot of opportunities to serve them better, so this area will be completely for those kids and have their needs met,” Boston said.
T.J. Regional Health donated to the building to help transform the space, she said.
“We're getting ready start at the first of the year we are having counseling through Skype, Telehealth, where the kids can come in and talk to a counselor over Skype,” Gaunce said. “That's something we are excited about. A lot of these kids just need to talk to someone about the stuff going on in their life.”
The club has yet to begin looking for land on which to build its teen center.
“I want to make sure that we have built the teen momentum for that to be prepared to be moving into another building, which we are close to, but I want to make sure our community is 100 percent behind it because we can't do anything without the community,” Boston said.
She continued that her goal isn't just to get a new building, but to get something that will make a huge impact on people under the age of 18 in the community.
Fundraising will begin in January to sustain what the club has at the HERO Center and to start exploring the option of the free-standing teen center, Gaunce said.
At this point no fundraising goal has been set.