by Kate Evans
Sandy Mellott was recently named Morgan County Unit Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle.
Mellott began working for the Morgan County club 20 years ago. She was first hired as educational coordinator and also was assistant unit director for a year and a half. Mellott will fill the post held for many years by Chris Risinger.
Mellott has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Fairmont State College with a minor in speech and theater.
When her son joined the club, Mellott started volunteering there. She has been there ever since. Mellott taught arts and crafts as a volunteer the year before she was hired. She also helped out when they were short-staffed and was soon offered a job. Her other two children were also Boys and Girls Club members.
Mellott attended technology training in Atlanta, Georgia through a club grant for a tech program. She’s maintained the club’s computers since then.
Mellott has worked with the tech program and homework help at the Boys and Girls Club and helped incorporate dance, self-defense, literature programs, edible art and cooking programs into its programming. She has also done occasional theater programs and worked with the Ice House on projects.
Mellott has overseen the Helping Hands program where members of the club’s community service groups — The Keystone Club and The Torch Club — help families in need at Thanksgiving and at Christmas with food collections and fundraisers.
“A lot of members are relying on us and the schools for meals,” Mellott said.
Around 65 kids attend the Boys and Girls Club daily. The club serves around 300 kids in the community, including providing 70 meals a day for students in the MC After 3 after-school program, Mellott said.
The Helping Hands program is on hold for now as any funding they’re raising is going towards the budget to run their main operations. The club charges a small fee per month for each child to attend. Mellott said the building is a big cost for the club and utilities and repairs are a big expense.
The needs of the Boys and Girls Club are rising as the needs of the kids and the community rise, she said. The club needs are rising faster than their income.
Boys and Girls Club activities include homework help, indoor games, outdoor sports, arts and crafts, computer activities, cooking, the Torch Club and Keystone Club. They have also occasional guest speakers with activities and demonstrations, Mellott said. Smart Moves, Positive Action, Too Good For Drugs and Too Good for Violence are other club programs.
Teen night is held twice a month on Friday nights from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and is for sixth grade and up, Mellott said Activities include dances, video games, movies and just hanging out. Non-members are also welcome. The Boys and Girls Club also holds a monthly family event with a meal and/or an activity.
A safe, fun place
Mellott said the Boys and Girls Club is a safe place for kids to be and that it has fun activities. Members are also exposed to educational programs, bullying prevention programs and other programs.
The club has a big appeal out now for mentors for kids at the club. They would welcome community volunteers and teachers to come hang out with club members and play games, checkers or interact one-on-one.
Mellott said she’s still astonished at the number of people in the community that don’t know there’s a Boys and Girls Club here. She goes to school Parent Nights to let families know about the club.
Mellott works with the schools, Starting Points, the Morgan County Extension Office, the Morgan County Partnership and other community organizations to let people know about the Boys and Girls Club and its successes.
“It comes down to a community. Relationships like that are important in a community,” Mellott said.
The Boys and Girls Club is open Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. for its after-school program for kindergarten students through age 18. The club also offers a summer program. The club is located in the Morgan County Community Services Building on South Green Street. For more information, call 304-258-6741.