Boys & Girls Clubs of Maury County Build Hydrogen Powered Models

Several workers awaited orders from the engineer while huddling around a rectangular box.The workers opened the box, revealing the many components required to build a hydrogen-powered model car. The engineer directed the materials coordinator to gather the parts, and the assembly person built the model under the leaders’ supervision. Quality control made sure the vehicle was safe before the car mobilized on a test run.

Words like hybridization, propulsion and zero emissions filled the air while the workers witnessed the successful launch of their vehicle.Those terms are often used by highly educated professional engineers, but in this case, they were spoken by middle and high school students.

Boys and Girls Club of Maury County students participated in a summer enrichment program known as Partners About True Hands-On Learning and Service, or PATHS. About 16 students built the cars Wednesday at General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing’s Welcome Center. The PATHS program is designed to combat the summer learning loss that occurs for many low-income children while they are away from the classroom.

Tennessee Tech University, Tennessee State University and University of Florida engineering students gave the students a brief presentation on hydrogen-powered vehicles and other alternative fuel sources.

In the model cars, water is converted to hydrogen through a device called an electrolyzer. Fuel cells then convert the hydrogen into electrical energy. Hydrogen energy sources can power vehicles, homes or other electrical devices.

CaVaughn Washington, 12, is a student at E.A. Cox Middle School and participated in the car’s assembly. He said he enjoyed learning about vehicles of the future while working in a team environment.

Washington said he is interested in the computer mechanical engineering field and wants to develop alternative fuel sources — things he did not consider before the program. “I hope in the future that we use less fossil fuels because we are really running low on it, and we barely make it,” Washington said. “We have to get it from other countries, and we pay for that — it’s just too much.”

Robyn Boshers, BGCMC resource development director, said when low-income children start kindergarten, they are about six months behind their higher income peers in basic reading and math comprehension.

Middle and higher income children tend to progress more during the summer because they attend summer camps and perform other enrichment activities, Boshers said. Many low-income children do not have those opportunities and fall behind during the summer months, she added. “The cumulative effect by fifth grade is, on average, a two-to three-year gap in proficiency levels,” Boshers said. “That just continues on to middle and high school. By the time they are that far behind, they can’t catch up.” PATHS programs help close the gap in summer learning deficiencies, Boshers added.

Pam Stamps, GM human resources manager of organizational development, said the partnership program encourages children to pursue careers in engineering, math and science via hands-on activities. “We thought it was a great opportunity to have them come in and learn a little about engineering and meet some of our college engineering students, which is great for them in terms of looking up to a role model,” Stamps said.

Chris Poynter, BGCMC assistant executive director, said the PATHS program’s goal is taking classroom principles and challenging children to apply the learning in real-life scenarios. Poynter said the model construction shows children that math and science are used in careers and everyday life.

“This is really working on the new wave of the future so that the kids can actually see and explore different opportunities from a career perspective,” Poynter said. “We just want to give those kids the opportunity to believe that anything they set their mind to, they can do.”


Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennesse Valley’s Duck Race

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley is busy preparing for its annual Duck Race at World’s Fair Park in Downtown Knoxville on July 4, 2013. The race will begin at 2:02 p.m. and end with the announcement of the winners at approximately 2:25 p.m.

This year’s prizes include a $10,000 cash Grand Prize sponsored by Humana, a $5,000 cash First Prize sponsored by ORNL Credit Union, and $2,500 Gas Gift Card Second Prize sponsored by Pilot. Each duck costs $5, and ducks can be purchased online at in advance or at World’s Fair Park on the day of the race.

“The Duck Race is a Knoxville tradition,” said Ernie Brooks, event organizer. “With the race being held on July 4th this year, we hope to have a lot of spectators on race day. World’s Fair Park has a great setup for families to come and watch the rubber ducks race.”

All proceeds from the Duck Race will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, which serves over 5,000 children at 14 club locations. The duck sales help to fund programs that encourage academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship for the area youth.

“Every duck that’s adopted in the race helps the children who attend the Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Lisa Hurst, President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. “The donations from the Duck Race provide very tangible results for the Club kids. Two ducks pay for a member to attend a field trip, and five ducks fund swim lessons. Twenty ducks provide a two week scholarship for a Club member.”

This is the 18th year that the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has hosted the Duck Race. Approximately 40,000 ducks will make their way through the lake to the finish line, where honorary chairman Russell Biven will pull the winning ducks from the water. The race has grown each year, and this year is poised to be another record breaker!


Cleveland’s Meeri Shin Claims Southeast Region Youth of the Year Title

On Tuesday evening, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) named Meeri Shin, a 7-year member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, the 2013-14 Southeast Region Youth of the Year. She receives a total of $11,000 in college scholarships from the Youth of the Year program’s national sponsor Tupperware Brands Corporation. Meeri was chosen from nine candidates within BGCA’s Southeast region and will vie for the national honor in Washington, D.C. in September.

Meeri and her fellow Youth of the Year candidates were honored at BGCA’s Annual Southeast Region Youth of the Year Celebration dinner held in Atlanta last evening. Prior to the event, the finalists were treated to a three-day experience in Atlanta, which included career experiences at local companies and a community service project.

Each finalist received a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware and $400 in gift cards from jcpenney. As the regional winner, Meeri also received an additional $500 jcpenney gift card to help prepare her wardrobe for the National Youth of the Year event.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year recognition is the highest honor a Club member can achieve. The Youth of the Year program, founded in 1947, celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. These deserving young people are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family.

When Meeri’s father left, her mother was forced to work three jobs to support the family. In turn, she often cared for her two younger siblings, one of whom has cerebral palsy. The Boys & Girls Club, which Meeri joined when she was 11 years old, has given her support and opportunities to demonstrate her leadership abilities. She serves as president of Keystone Club, a teen group dedicated to leadership and community service and assists Club personnel as a Junior Staff member.  As a teacher for SMART Moves, a risk-prevention program, she has helped younger members learn to resist peer pressure and make the right decisions.

Meeri is a leader in her community and school as well, volunteering for numerous service events and serving as president of Key Club and Anchor Club, a worldwide service organization. She recently graduated with a 4.0 GPA. An aspiring neurologist, she will attend the University of California at Berkeley, where she plans to major in biology and political science.

When asked what the Boys & Girls Club means to her, Meeri replied, “The Boys & Girls Club is my home. The Club has molded me into who I am today. The Club has strengthened my faith, promoted my well-being, and has been my constant pillar of support. Because of the Club, I know I have the tools to succeed.”

As the Southeast Region Youth of the Year, Meeri and five other regional winners will have a chance to meet with President Barack H. Obama in the White House Oval Office in September. If named the 2013-14 National Youth of the Year, she will receive an additional $50,000 scholarship from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation.

Success is a Product of Juvenile Prevention Program

Desten Rice, 16, eyed the pool table in the Boys & Girls Club of Maury County’s game room before lining up a shot.

He’d never played pool before joining the club less than two months ago. He didn’t know what a B in geometry looked like before going there, either.

In March, Rice was near failing the class. He’d been kicked out of Spring Hill High School after being caught with marijuana on the premises and received a court date for the same incident. There, Maury County General Sessions Judge George Lovell sentenced him to 24 hours of community service.

Instead of picking up trash, though, Rice received the opportunity to participate in a new program that allows law enforcement officials to send juveniles to the Boys & Girls Club as a way to prevent them from getting in trouble again.

The Boys & Girls Club paid for the program through a Targeted Community Crime Reduction Grant from the Tennessee Office of Justice Programs, awarded to Columbia in February 2012. The grant provided $800,000 over three years to the Columbia Police Department, the nonprofit and Goodwill Industries.

The Boys & Girls Club received half the grant and used it to fund part of full-time teen director Ulisha Blakesleay’s salary, a school resource officer’s salary and program fees for juveniles court-referred to the club, among other items.

Law enforcement and Boys & Girls Club officials said it is still too early to gather statistics from the grant, but they think the referral program is working.

“It really helped me out with my attitude because I had something to do and had people to talk to,” Rice said. “It’s sort of like mini-therapy.”

Juveniles 10 and older can participate in the program if they have committed first- or second-time minor offenses, such as shoplifting, and live in one of three city zones — 1, 3 or 5 — that officials consider the most crime-heavy, Boys & Girls Club Resource Development Director Robyn Boshers said.

If they qualify, law enforcement officials can refer them to the program, Boshers said. The juveniles then attend the club for either three months or a number of hours determined by a judge. In Rice’s case — the sentence was 24 hours, which Juvenile Administrator Jamie Reed said is the average number of hours juveniles receive.

Reed works in Columbia’s public service work program and determines where to send juveniles who are court- or school-ordered to do community service.

Since the start of the grant program, Reed has referred 28 juveniles to the Boys & Girls Club, mainly for charges of truancy, or skipping school.

“If they’re an at-risk kid, if we’re going to provide them with every opportunity to get out of the environment they’re in. We’ve got to make it something positive for them,” Reed said.

Sometimes, Reed said kids are sent to him for offenses that weren’t necessarily their fault, such as being frequently late to school because of their parents.

Cleaning roads isn’t always the best option for correcting those problems, Reed said, and the Boys & Girls Club can offer different services.

For Rice, the club provided tutoring that helped boost his geometry grade to 85 percent.

Nicolas Abdallah, the department head for juvenile services in Maury County Juvenile Court, added that another purpose of the program is to give kids consequences and prevent them from visiting court again.

For the program, Abdallah reviews juveniles on the court’s docket and selects those that qualify for the Boys & Girls Club. He then usually tells juveniles about the option before they enter court.

“The whole goal is to offer different solutions for each individual child that hopefully will correct the behavior or allow them time to reflect on their behaviors and hopefully spark a change in them,” Abdallah said.

Elijah Hardin, 16, said attending the Boys & Girls Club has made him a new person and kept him from getting into trouble as a result of peer pressure.

“Since I’ve been here, I haven’t been hanging with my friends,” Hardin said. “I’ve found me some new friends to hang with that I can trust.”

Hardin was not court-ordered into the program but was told about the club by Blakesleay while in court for a case that was thrown out earlier this spring.

Blakesleay said she often attends juvenile court to support kids involved in cases and to provide information for those who want to know about the club.

“I didn’t want to be on the streets, and I thought this would maybe help me from not being on the streets,” Hardin said about why he joined.

Both Hardin and Rice said they plan to continue participating in the Boys & Girls Club because they have made friends there.

Besides Rice, six kids who were court-ordered to join the club have signed up after finishing their community service, Boshers said.

The crime reduction grant will end in March 2015, and Boys & Girls Club officials hope to increase their operating budget to continue the programs the grant funded, which will cost about $150,000 a year.

For information on this program and other services from the Boys & Girls Club of Maury County, call (931) 490-9401.

Boys & Girls Clubs Celebrates Youth of the Year

2013 Tennessee Youth of the Year, Meeri Shin, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland

Nashville, Tennessee was packed full of outstanding Boys & Girls Club youth last week, March 25-27, as it was home to the 2013 Tennessee Youth of the Year Celebration.  Among the crowd was 18 Youth of the Year finalist from across the Big Orange state vying for the title of Tennessee Youth of the Year.  When all was said and done, 18 year old Meeri Shin from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland was holding a $1,000 scholarship from the Tupperware Brands Corporation, a $5,000 scholarship from the Tennessee Titans Foundation, and a Dell laptop.

Youth of the Year kicked off Monday, as Youth of the Year competitors, chaperones and Club staff headed from registration down to Bridgestone Arena to see the Nashville Predators defeat the Edmonton Oilers.

Tuesday got off to a bright and early start as Youth of the Year and chaperones traveled to CMT.  While at CMT, they enjoyed breakfast and toured the facility.  The group then walked to Bridgestone Arena to visit the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a state of the art, 7,200 square foot, interactive facility that is both entertaining and educational. The Hall of Fame teaches students Tennessee history using sports as the catalyst. It honors athletes, coaches, sportswriters, and sports administrators who have made an impact on the history of sports in Tennessee.

Chet Nichols, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, welcomes everyone to the Youth of the Year Competition at LP Field

Youth of the Year, chaperones and Club staff made their way, by bus, to LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, for lunch and to hear 18 Youth of the Year speeches.  The next several hours at LP Field were filled with uplifting stories of how Boys & Girls Clubs played a major role in the lives of these young people.  Some spoke about their leadership roles in their Club as Keystone President or Jr. Staff.  Other Youth of the Year reflected on difficult situations they dealt with as young children such as abuse, death of parents and no sense of belonging.  The pattern of each speech rang true with Boys & Girls Clubs being the place each Youth of the Year felt safe, encouraged and confident. 

Following the speeches, Youth of the Year were individually interviewed, in two rounds, by a panel of 8 judges.  Judges for the Youth of the Year Competition were Yvonna Brown, Assistant Commissioner Adult & Family Services; Bill Emendorfer, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame; Sarah Gaffney, CMT; Mike London, Check Into Cash; Bob Mifflin, The Christy Houston Foundation Scott Perry, Memorial Foundation; Teresa Whitaker, Stars Nashville and Rob Wilson, Nissan USA.

Tennessee Youth of the Year Judges with Top 6 Finalists

The field was then narrowed to the “Top 6” who went through a third round of interviews with the judges.  The “Top 6” were Gabriella Madison, Boys & Girls Club of Morristown; Derelle Roshell, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga; Tyler Harrison, Boys & Girls Club of Maury County; Meeri Shin, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland; Shannon Wiggins, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee and Ashley Heatherly, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Smoky Mountains.  The entire group donned 80’s themed apparel for a fun supper at Dick’s Last Resort followed by laser tag.

House Speaker, Beth Harwell, visits with Boys & Girls Clubs Tennessee Alliance President, Lynn Johnson, and Boys & Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County CPO, Robin Crumley

Tuesday evening was also host to the Legislative Reception held in the Pinnacle Room of the Sheraton Nashville Downtown. Club staff met with their local legislators and legislators from across Tennessee to speak about important legislation affecting youth and Boys & Girls Clubs. Around 34 legislators attended the reception, including Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell.  

The final day of the Youth of the Year Celebration started with an early morning visit to the Capitol. The group viewed a session of the Senate.  The Youth of the Year Celebration was recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives. Quentin Scott, member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, opened the House session with an a cappella version of the National Anthem. From the gallery, the group was fortunate to watch the daily functions of the House and see Governor Bill Haslam address a joint session of the House and Senate on healthcare. 

Quentin Scott, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, sings the National Anthem

To wrap up the festivities, the Youth of the Year Legislative Luncheon was held in the Ballroom of the Sheraton Nashville Downtown. Sally Crimmins, Vice President of the Tennessee Alliance, welcomed everyone.  Quentin Scott entertained the crowd with performances of “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts and “Go Get It” by Mary Mary. The Luncheon was attended by 27 legislators.

Chet Nichols, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, recognized all 18 Youth of the Year who competed. He stated, “This is by far my favorite week of the year.  Seeing these young people and getting to know them better is one of the best parts of my job.”  Nichols then announced the “Top 6” to those in attendance. All six finalists received a Dell laptop.

Tyler Harrison, Boys & Girls Club of Maury County was announced first as 5th Runner-Up. Derelle Roshell, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga, received 4th Runner-Up and Shannon Wiggins, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee, received 3rd Runner-Up. Winner of a $2,000 from the Tennessee Titans Scholarship was 2nd Runner-Up Ashley Heatherly, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Smoky Mountains. Gabriella Madison, Boys & Girls Club of Morristown, was announced as 1st Runner-Up and received a $3,000 scholarship from the Tennessee Titans Foundation.

Governor-Bill Haslam-Meeri-Shin-Rep-Brooks-Tennessee-Youth-of-the-Year
Tennessee Youth of the Year, Meeri Shin, with Governor Bill Haslam and Rep. Brooks

The final name called on Wednesday was 18 year old senior at Walker Valley High School, Meeri Shin.  Shin took home the title of 2013 Tennessee Youth of the Year along with a $1,000 scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation and a $5,000 scholarship from the Tennessee Titans Foundation.  Shin addressed the crowed by thanking her Club staff and Board Members who supported her.  Shin also thanked the judges and event sponsors.

The Youth of the Year Legislative Luncheon was sponsored by Tennessee Titans Foundation, Check Into Cash, Dell, TIS Insurance, Food City, CMT One Country, Nashville Predators Foundation and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Shin’s short term goal is to win the national title.  Her long term plans are to attend the University of California in Los Angeles where she will double major in Micro Biology and Political Science. Shin has aspirations to end Cerebral Palsy and put an end as well to Human Trafficking. 

This summer, Shin will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members within the Southeast Region. If named regional winner, she will be awarded an additional $10,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands, the program’s national sponsor. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2013, to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.

 As BGCA’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. The recognition program encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. These extraordinary young leaders are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee or the Youth of the Year contact Ernie Brooks (865) 232-1104 or or Kelly Drummond (865) 232-1111.


Meeri Shin Claims 2013 Tennessee Youth of the Year

Meeri Shin waited her turn as her competitors took the stage one by one. As the oldest at the competition, Shin was slated last to speak.
Unlike other competitions, Shin and the other 17 students were not going to show off a set of refined skills. Each one was there for a simple reason: to share how their lives had been bettered by their involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“The Boys and Girls Club has helped me so much and I want to help them in return by being a great role model and spokesperson to let others know there is a great place for them, too,” Shin said. She continued making a name for herself, and the Cleveland clubs, by taking first place at the Tennessee Youth of the Year competition Wednesday. Shin beat out 17 other hopefuls with heartfelt BGCA stories.

Contestants arrived Monday for a day of relaxation before Tuesday’s festivities. They were given a chance to meet the judges and gather their bearings. “The judges are really nice people,” Shin said. “I met a couple of them beforehand, because they sponsored dinners for us.”

Tuesday dawned bright and full of activities for the young students. Following a breakfast, Shin said the BGCA representatives took a tour of the Titan’s LP Field in Nashville. Each one then presented their speech at a luncheon. All students participated in two sets of interviews with a total of four judges.

“They asked you about your speech and home life. They wanted to get to know you as best as they could in an eight minute time frame,” Shin said.

Chances are Shin’s story touched the judges in Nashville as much as it has the residents of Cleveland and Bradley County. “I am sorry— three words so overused that they have become a mundane response at best,” Shin said in a recent speech. She said apologies were all she had left following her father’s unexpected departure in fifth grade.

“But for all of the apologies that I spoke, I never got to say the ones that would mean the most: the ones for my father,” Shin said. “I never got to say, ‘I’m sorry, Daddy.’ I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough. I’m sorry I never lived up to your expectations. I’m sorry I wasn’t enough for you to stay.’”

At the age of 11, Shin was introduced to the Boys and Girls Club. According to Shin, the club was an angel in her time of need. She has since become an active volunteer for all seven clubs in the Cleveland area.

“I stand before you now with only one apology left,” Shin said. “I am sorry, Dad, that you couldn’t see the greatness I could become. I don’t apologize for not being good enough or not being worth anyone’s time. Instead, I am thankful and humble and grateful for the position I am in.”

Six of the 18 participants were invited to a second set of interviews. Shin said the next 8-minute session had all eight judges asking questions. “It was like talking to an old friend,” Shin said of the proceedings. Contrary to what most would feel in her situation, Shin said she was not nervous. “I was really fortunate enough to have a lot of practice beforehand.” “My school was really supportive and let me speak at other places during school [hours],” Shin said of Walker Valley High School.

She said she was satisfied with Tuesday’s speech. ” gave it my best and I was really proud of how I did. I knew whatever happened Wednesday, I would not want to change a thing,” Shin said.

According to a recent press release from Cleveland’s BGC, “Shin received the Youth of the Year title based on her sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community. As the new teen representative for all Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee, she will receive a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation and a $5,000 scholarship from the Tennessee Titans Foundation.

Jim Clark, President and CEO of BGCA, said Shin is on track with the club’s mission. “Meeri Shin and all Youth of the Year nominees are living proof that Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are fulfilling their mission of inspiring and enabling young people to be great,” Clark said. 

Following Shin’s victory on Wednesday, she met with Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam.  Several other Youth of the Year contestants visited the Capitol to speak with Gov. Haslam as well.

Shin will compete in the Southeast Region competition against other state champions this summer. Five regional winners will then advance to Washington D.C. in September to compete at a national level.


Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley’s Kelly Drummond wins Prescott Regional Award

Kelly Drummond has been awarded the Herman S. Prescott Southeast Regional Award for her commitment in fostering diversity and equality in the workplace. The award was presented at the Boys & Girls Club Southeast Leadership Conference in Memphis on March 7. Kelly will join five other regional award recipients as a candidate for the national Prescott Award, to be presented at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Conference in May.

Kelly is the Vice President of Human Resources and Administration for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley as well as Grants Administrator for Boys & Girls Clubs across the state of Tennessee.  Kelly also oversees TRiO programs and trains Boys & Girls Club staff throughout the country on youth development techniques.

“Kelly holds the Boys & Girls Clubs to the highest standard of excellence,” says Lisa Hurst, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. “We are privileged to have her as a part of the Boys & Girls Club movement. She goes beyond expectations to promote fairness and inclusion in the workplace.”

Kelly’s leadership and impact in the community extends beyond Boys & Girls Clubs. She was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to the Tennessee Commission for Children and Youth, where she serves as the Committee Chair for Councils. She also serves as the President of the East Tennessee Council on Children and Youth, a Board Member on the Knox County Juvenile Court’s Foster Care Review Board, and an Advisory Board Member for Knox County Parks & Recreation. Kelly was a member of Leadership Knoxville’s Class of 2010.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley ( is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship in a safe and caring environment.  Membership is open to boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 17 years.  Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.  Since 1943, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has provided opportunities to youth in Knoxville and in what has now grown into a four county service area in the Tennessee Valley. Fourteen Club facilities in Knox, Blount, Loudon, and North Anderson Counties serve over 5,200 area youth each year. They benefit from trained, caring, professional staff and volunteers who help young people take control of their lives, envision productive futures, and reach their goals. Learn more at and

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Smoky Mountains Gets $150,000 from Maytag for “Reclaim Our Teens”

Maytag, known for its appliances, honored the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains with an award and sizable monetary donation, which the organization will use to bring back its “Reclaim Our Teens” program.

The iconic Maytag Repairman was present Friday afternoon for the presentation of the 2012 Maytag Dependable Club Award of $150,000, which is given annually to 11 clubs across the country. After slipping into his familiar blue jacket, the “repairman” spoke to the club’s board members and some of its members, telling a little about the award and why they received it.

“You do the things that make you a dependable person, and that’s what we’re looking for in a club,” Clay Jackson, who plays the Maytag Repairman, said to the children gathered in the club’s gymnasium.

The award is given to clubs that are “dependable and reliable,” that have shown they can make an impact in the community, and that have the potential to make more of an impact. “It’s a very prestigious thing, a very wonderful thing,” Chief Professional Officer Mark Ross said of receiving the award.

Maytag believes that awarding clubs will ensure a maximization of positive impact, “because they’ve shown that they know what to do,” Jackson said.

“We definitely award success, but we award programs that already have shown success so that we can bring them more success,” Jackson said. “This club needed some assistance with their teen program, and that was one of the things that stood out for us.”

The “Reclaim Our Teens” program closed in 2010 due to economic hardships, but the grant will allow the club to restart the program, which seeks to meet teens’ needs on all levels and foster a future of adult success through directed programs. One of the teen programs meets Friday nights after the club closes, and the club hoped to kick it off that same night.

“That’s one reason we wanted (the Maytag representatives) here today,” said Sue Reller, director of resource development for the club.

Over the last three years, Maytag has awarded over $3 million in grants to Boys & Girls Clubs through the Maytag Dependable Club Award.


Inky Johnson to speak at Annual Campaign Kickoff Lunch for Boys & Girls Club of the Monroe Area

     The Boys & Girls Club of the Monroe Area is having their Annual Campaign Kickoff Luncheon this Thursday (1/17) at 12:00 Noon at the Tellico West Conference Center in Vonore. Inky Johnson will be our guest speaker. Please let me know if you would like to come. Inky Johnson came to the University of Tennessee as a highly sought after football player – hoping to one day play in the NFL.

But on Sept. 9, 2006, during the Vols match-up against Air Force, his life took a dramatic turn. With just a few minutes to play in the game, Johnson went for a tackle and jammed his shoulder into the body of the Air Force running back Justin Handley. The hit caused nerve damage in Johnson’s right shoulder and ended his playing career.

Since then, Johnson has detailed his story in his autobiography, Inky: An Amazing Story of Faith and Perseverance. He’s mentoring underprivileged youth in Knoxville and his hometown of Atlanta. And he’s speaking to crowds about his faith, his ability to overcome adversity and his ability to accept a change of plans from his NFL dreams.

Teens receive gifts from Peyton Manning at Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley pizza party

One of Knoxville’s favorite sons is giving back to East Tennessee. On Wednesday, Peyton Manning’s foundation hosted a holiday party at the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley. Since the NFL season is still underway, Peyton wasn’t able to attend, but his giving spirit was still felt. He sent each of the teens a special gift package.

The Boys and Girls Club says around the holidays teenagers can often get overlooked. “So many times, when people make contributions to Boys and Girls Clubs around Christmastime, they’re always thinking about our little kids and making sure that our little ones have Christmas, but the PeyBack Foundation has been instrumental in ensuring that our teenagers have very, very nice gifts,” said Lisa Hurst.

Peyton’s work with the Boys and Girls Clubs goes back to his days at UT. He was a former staff member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.