Boys & Girls Club opens new club and celebrates 25 years of service – The Morgan Messenger


by Kate Evans

The Morgan County Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle held its grand opening and dedication ceremony at its new club at Berkmore Plaza on Saturday, September 25. The club marked 25 years of service to the community this year. The new club opened on Monday, September 13.

The open house event included speakers, refreshments, DJ Rick Rohn and tours of the facilities. The new club features a multi-purpose room, computer lab, game room, arts and crafts / STEM room, music room, teen lounge, reading corner, and commercial kitchen.

The Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, Stacie Rohn, expressed her enthusiasm for the new club and her deep gratitude to all the people and agencies who have helped them in their new location.

These included Delegate Ken Reed and Tally Reed, who offered them space at Berkmore Plaza, Morgan County Commission, First Energy Foundation, Seely Foundation, Senator Charles Trump, CNB, Glen’s Electrical, Jeff Cross , Susan Webster and Pete Moss and Kelsey Swaïm Miller.

Rohn said that “good things are happening here for the kids” and the reward lies in good citizens and good employees. “Our children can be whatever they want to be,” she said.

Gov. Jim Justice’s Legislative Representative Daryl Cowles read a proclamation from the governor congratulating them on completing the new Boys and Girls Club. Boys and Girls Clubs offer mentoring and youth development programs and help children become productive and responsible citizens, the governor said. Justice sent his best wishes for the future of the club.

Seely Foundation, staff

Morgan County Boys and Girls Club founder Gail Shade, vice chair of the Eastern Panhandle Boys and Girls Club board of directors, said the club wouldn’t be here without the generosity of Tom and Virginia Seely. Tom Seely gave them the first $ 10,000 to start the Boys and Girls Club in Morgan County.

Shade said the club opened on June 3, 1996 at its former location in the Morgan County Community Center on South Green Street. She recognized early board members like Bath City Police Officer Dale Davis, teachers Linda McGraw and Andrea LaRue, Tom Close and Cindy Stotler.

Gail Shade talks about the founding of the Boys & Girls Club.

Shade noted that Rohn rose through the ranks after serving as a unit director and is now considered the most dynamic CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of West Virginia.

Morgan County unit director Sandy Mellott said she joined the team 22 years ago as a Boys and Girls Club volunteer when her own children attended. She first taught arts and crafts, did tech, and became a staff member.

“You have little kids that touch your heart and you get sucked in,” Mellott said of his long service at the Morgan County club.

It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into the opening of the new club, she said. They have a lot of new programs. Anything the kids are interested in, they’ll create a program around it.

Things are going very well in their new location, Rohn said. They have a good team of staff, cook Barbara Tucker has been a real powerhouse, Shelly Fischer works with the teen program, and Emily Staebler and Morgan Plant are youth development professionals.

Club activities

Boys and Girls Club activities include homework help, indoor games, outdoor sports, arts and crafts, computer activities, cooking, Torch Club and Keystone Club, guest speakers casual 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 dancing, video games, movies and just hanging out. Non-members are also welcome.

Healthy lifestyles, music

Rohn said they offer a healthy living program – the Triple Play Program – that focuses on fitness, healthy eating, emotional balance, and healthy thoughts – mind, body, and spirit.

Before COVID-19, BlackCat Music Cooperative taught guitar and ukulele lessons at the Boys and Girls Club. Now that the club has reopened, they will resume teaching music, Rohn said.

They no longer do expedited meals and only provide in-house meals and snacks for club members during their programs, Mellott said. Along with the grant starting October 4, they will also be providing food for the MC After 3 programs.

Mellott said the best thing about the first day the kids were back at the Boys and Girls Club was hearing the kids laughing and talking together.

“There is nothing like the sound of children’s laughter,” she said.

Duck race

The Boys and Girls Club has partnered with the Xtra Mile Foundation to host a duck race at Berkeley Springs State Park early Saturday afternoon to benefit the club. The Xtra Mile Foundation previously sponsored the Jeeps for Georgia event and hosted “It’s a Jeep Thing” events this past weekend in Berkeley Springs.

The Boys and Girls Club shared the proceeds of the duck race with the Xtra Mile Foundation. The foundation would also help a Boys and Girls Club family with home repairs, Rohn said.

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