Community invited to Steak’N’Burger to support club that empowers youth

Published 9:45 am Monday, May 16, 2016

Contributed Photo Emily Jenkins said she would not be the confident, capable person she is today without the support of the family she is a part of at the Boys and Girls Club.

Contributed Photo Emily Jenkins said she would not be the confident, capable person she is today without the support of the family she is a part of at the Boys and Girls Club.

The Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton and Carter County is more than just an after school program and a meal. It is more than homework help and more than a hangout.

“For so many of our kids, it is a second home,” said Director Ginny Wright. “It’s where they get fed when they are not in school and where they learn to use a knife and fork . It’s how they take their first college tours. It’s where they know that caring adults are ready to help them solve any problem they might have. It’s a place of hope and opportunity.”

Members say they learn how to express themselves and enjoy the academic and emotional support of caring mentors in a fun environment. And while the impact is evident in its attendance, which quadrupled in just two years, the real importance of the club is in the stories of its members.

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High school student Emily Jenkins, one of the club’s applicants for Youth of the Year, said she would not be the person she is today without the club. She said the friendships she formed there made her realize that she was not alone, and the club gave her a place where she belonged.

“I am not a cookie cutter individual, but here I am empowered and given every opportunity to be my quirky self,” Jenkins said. “I can be the person that people don’t always expect me to be because I feel like I am perfect the way I am.”

She said even when the world seems like a giant storm cloud, she can go to the club and laugh till her ribs hurt.

The fairness and support of the club family are what she said have helped shape who she is today.

“This club family has helped me realize my goals and helped me feel confident in my choices,” Jenkins said. “I feel like I have been given a positive example on how to live my life and how to be a role model as an adult. I have been welcomed into a family that opens its arms to everyone and helps with any problem that I may face.”

Though attending the club costs members $10 weekly, Director Ginny Wright said the payment is still too expensive for many families. For this reason, the club is hosting a fundraiser dinner with hopes of raising $20,000 to continue to offer programs, meals and support for youth. Wright said community support is crucial for the club to be able to continue its mission of empowering youth.

“Too many kids in Carter County don’t have a fair shot,” she said. “We want to ensure that success is within reach for every child in Carter County. When you support the Boys & Girls Club, you change young lives.”

The Steak’N’Burger dinner will take place on May 17 at noon at the club, located at 104 Hudson Dr. Attendees will enjoy burgers alongside club members who will be fed steaks. Wright said the event is truly about the children. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with and hear from club members at this brand new integrative event. Two young people will be the event’s emcees. University of Tennessee Men’s Head Basketball Coach Rick Barnes will be the special guest speaker.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, councilmen Bob Cables endorsed the event, saying, “I think it’s a good opportunity to meet with Mr. Barnes, and I know it’s a good opportunity to support the Boys and Girls Club.”

Tickets and sponsorships are available for the event. Because seating is limited, those interested should call in advance. For more information, contact Elizabeth Williams, director of resource development and marketing, at 423-543-2946 or online or on Facebook.