Boys and Girls club gets a much needed renewal

Sunday, June 8, 2003

New ownership of the Boys and Girls Club building, along with a new leader of the program, may be the spark needed to revitalize the nonprofit agency, said board members and staff of the club.

"It's a new day," said Na Tika Rowles, the recently-named chief professional officer of the program. "I am willing to tap into every available resource to maximize and reach that full potential. Support and dedication will be the key. Good things are to come."

After struggling financially to maintain the building, located at 232 Broadway, while paying the mortgage, the board members of the program collectively decided to sell the building to the First Presbyterian Church, located directly across the street from the club.

The Boys and Girls Club, whose main funding comes from local contributions and nationwide grants, has suffered due to the lackluster economy, Rowles said.

Rev. Paul Kabo Jr., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church and president of the Boys and Girls Club board believes it is his church's mission to help the struggling entity.

"God has called us to a mission effort," said Kabo. "We are very delighted to be able to respond to the call of Christ and work in this mission."

Repairs being madeAlthough the building now belongs to the First Presbyterian Church, rent for the use of the facility will be a token sum, costing the club $1 a year.

In addition, much-needed maintenance to the aging building is under way.

Repairs to the damaged roof, which caused injury to a student who slipped on the water, is to begin shortly, along with air conditioning and furnace servicing.

"We will be taking responsibility for the major maintenance of the building," said Kabo.

Church members and club staff members are hoping that new programs and activities, along with continued maintenance to the building, will add to the renewal of the club.

Not only is maintenance taking place, but new programs and activities also are adding to the renewal of the club.

Summer camp will be held from June 23 to Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

"We are really trying to not only provide a safe environment but an educational one also," said Tiechera Samuell, education and career development coordinator.

Programs emphasizing the importance of drug prevention, along with activities that promote responsible decision-making in adult situations, will be implemented into the summer programs, said Samuell.

The purpose of the Boys and Girls Club, formerly known as the Cape Girardeau Civic Center, is to provide a safe haven while nurturing the students academically and physically, Rowles said.

"I started coming here so I would do my homework," said Curtis Branham, 11, who participates in the program. "The teachers here help me with my homework. I am doing a lot better."

Rowles spent several years in retail management between volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in Springfield, Mo., and taking her current job. She started her work as chief professional officer at Cape Girardeau on June 1. Rowles graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a bachelor of science degree in fashion merchandising/management and with a bachelor of fine arts in dance studies.

To volunteer time or money or to enroll students in the summer program, contact Rowles at 335-7141.

335-6611, extension 127

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