The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County hope to be able to reach out to even more young people once construction on its new building is complete.
In an emotional ceremony Thursday, those connected with the organization celebrated the fact that next summer, the Joseph F. Walters Club, located adjacent to Lyman Hall Elementary, will be able to serve as many as 200 young people living in the Memorial Park Drive area.
"Within our organization we’re trying to reach out to those kids in this community that need us most," said Joe Ethier, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. "We can honestly say that this project ... will most definitely serve those kids that need us most in Hall County, and we’re very proud to be a lead role in that."
Building the new facility next to the elementary school follows the organization’s model to "bring the club to the kids," said Abb Hayes Jr., former president of the Boys &Girls Clubs of Hall County’s board of directors.
"We knew that this would be the place that we needed to be," he said.
The land for the new club was purchased with the help of the Junior League and a partnership with the Hall County Board of Education. The Joseph F. Walters Club is named for the late brother of Jim Walters, who was the lead donor in a campaign to raise money for the construction of the facility.
Jim Walters said he chose to name the facility for his brother, because "Joe" Walters had a great passion for children and children’s issues.
"He truly loved children, and to see this building named in his honor would humble him," Jim Walters said.
Jim Walters encouraged those at the groundbreaking ceremony to also donate to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, which he said has more impact on children than any other organization he knew.
"Your dollars will be used wisely, and I promise you a much greater return than you’ve seen in the stock market or some other investment lately," Walters said. "This is the kind of investment that keeps on returning a dividend even after you’re gone and you can’t see the return any longer."
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County plans to include nine learning studios in the 10,000-square-foot Joseph F. Walters Club that will include a technology lab, art room, dance studio and a room for children to get help with homework. The organization also plans to renovate and redesign athletic fields that the elementary school and Boys & Girls Clubs will share.
"This will definitely change and impact numerous lives," Ethier said. "You may not see it for five, 10, 15 years, but I can assure you, down the road, because of your investments and your efforts in our organization Hall County will be a better place and we thank you for your investment in us."