by Kate Evans
The Morgan County Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle held its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at their new club location at Berkmore Plaza on Saturday, September 25. The club marked 25 years of service to the community this year. The new club opened Monday, September 13.
The open house event featured speakers, refreshments, d.j. Rick Rohn and tours of the facilities. The new club includes a multi-purpose room, computer lab, game room, arts and crafts/STEM room, music room, a teen lounge, a reading nook and a commercial kitchen.
Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle Executive Director Stacie Rohn expressed her excitement with the new club and deep appreciation for all the people and agencies that helped them with their new location.
Those included Delegate Ken Reed and Tally Reed, who offered them space at Berkmore Plaza, the Morgan County Commission, the First Energy Foundation, the Seely Foundation, Senator Charles Trump, CNB, Glen’s Electrical, Jeff Cross, Susan Webster and Pete Moss and Kelsey Swaim Miller.
Rohn said that “good things are happening here for kids” and the payback is in good citizens and good employees. “Our kids can be anything they want to be,” she stressed.
Governor Jim Justice’s Legislative Representative Daryl Cowles read a proclamation from the Governor that commended them for finishing the new Boys and Girls Club. Boys and Girls Clubs provide mentorship and youth development programs and help kids become productive and responsible citizens, the Governor said. Justice sent best wishes for the club’s future.
Seely Foundation, staff
Morgan County Boys and Girls Club founder Gail Shade, vice president of the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle board of directors, said that the club wouldn’t be here without the generosity of Tom and Virginia Seely. Tom Seely gave them the first $10,000 to get the Boys and Girls Club started in Morgan County.
Shade said the club opened its doors on June 3, 1996 in its former location in the Morgan County Community Center on South Green Street. She recognized early board members like Town of Bath Police Officer Dale Davis, teachers Linda McGraw and Andrea LaRue, Tom Close and Cindy Stotler.
Shade noted that Rohn came up in the ranks from being a unit director and is now considered the most dynamic Boys and Girls Club CEO in West Virginia.
Sandy Mellott, Morgan County Unit Director, said she came on board 22 years ago as a Boys and Girls Club volunteer when her own kids attended. She first taught arts and crafts, did technology and became staff.
“You got little kids that touch your heart and you get suckered in,” Mellott said of her long service to the Morgan County club.
It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into the new club opening, she said. They have a lot of new programming. Anything that kids have an interest in they’ll create a program around it.
Things are going very well at their new location, Rohn said. They have a good team of staff-, cook Barbara Tucker has been a real dynamo, Shelly Fischer works with the teen program and Emily Staebler and Morgan Plant are youth development professionals.
Boys and Girls Club activities include homework help, indoor games, outdoor sports, arts and crafts, computer activities, cooking, the Torch Club and Keystone Club, occasional guest speakers with activities and demonstrations, Smart Moves, Positive Action, Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence, Mellott said.
Teen night is for sixth grade and up, Mellott said. Activities include dances, video games, movies and just hanging out. Non-members are also welcome.
Healthy lifestyles, music
Rohn said they’re offering a healthy lifestyles program-the Triple Play Program-which focuses on fitness, healthy eating, emotional balance and healthy thoughts-mind, body and spirit.
Before COVID-19 BlackCat Music Cooperative was giving guitar and ukulele instruction at the Boys and Girls Club. Now that the club has reopened they’ll get the music instruction going again, Rohn said.
They’re no longer doing shipped out meals and are only providing meals and snacks in-house to club members at their programs, Mellott said. With the grant that starts on October 4 they’ll also be providing food for the MC After 3 programs.
Mellott said the best thing about the first day that kids were back at the Boys and Girls Club was hearing kids laughing and talking together.
“There’s nothing like the sound of kids laughing,” she said.
The Boys and Girls Club partnered with the Xtra Mile Foundation to hold a Duck Race at Berkeley Springs State Park early Saturday afternoon to benefit the club. The Xtra Mile Foundation previously sponsored the Jeeps for Georgie event and held “It’s a Jeep Thing” events last weekend in Berkeley Springs.
The Boys and Girls Club was splitting the duck race proceeds with the Xtra Mile Foundation. The foundation was also going to help a Boys and Girls Club family do some home repairs, Rohn said.