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SELMA — As bulldozers dismantled the Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County’s hurricane-damaged home, the group’s former leaders passed the torch to a new after-school program for local youth.
Representatives of the former Boys & Girls Club and the recently launched My Kid’s Club were on hand for the Thursday demolition at 609 N. Pollock St. beside Selma Elementary School.
According to Jean Kelly, a founding board member of My Kid’s Club, the building carries a rich history and has always been linked to helping Johnston County children and teens fulfill their potential.
The Boys & Girls Club was based there for 16 years, and for a short time, the building served as a launchpad for My Kid’s Club.
Prior to that, the building had been used for more than half a century for functions ranging from teaching agricultural classes and auto mechanics after World War II to a portion of the building becoming a band room and eighth grade classroom. When Selma Elementary was under construction, it served as the school’s Yellow Jacket Café.
The building was badly damaged by Hurricane Matthew and could no longer be used.
Kelly said since its inception in its original form in 2006, roughly 1,600 children have come through the Boys and Girls Club.
In November, the national Boys & Girls Club organization cut ties with the Johnston County affiliate, citing what it called a “lack of stability of the organization in Johnston County.” When the agency announced it was pulling out of Johnston County, a group of leaders who had been involved with the club over the years stepped forward and incorporated as My Kid’s Club.
“It will be the same people running the new program,” interim CEO Thad Woodard explained last fall. “We will advance this program and take it to other welcoming communities across Johnston County. “
My Kid’s Club launched in January to assume all responsibilities of the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne and Johnston counties.
“The legacy will continue in a new space that seeks to address the unique needs of today’s youth,” said Kelly. “My Kid’s Club has already begun planning a new building to provide a state-of-the-art space to continue programs for children and the surrounding community to grow and prosper for years to come.”
“There is a huge need,” said Executive Director Alison Gammage. “My Kid’s Club is funded by private donations and fundraising grants and the timeline for a new building will be decided by fundraisers.”
My Kid’s Club is currently operating on the Selma Elementary campus with day camps in Selma all summer and at South Smithfield Elementary School through July 19.
“The idea is for the kids to have a safe space, hopefully giving them experiences they would not otherwise have had to help them become successful,” said Gammage. “These kids are so nice, polite and appreciative and they are really good citizens.”
To learn more about My Kids Club, contact Alison Gammage at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.351.1559, ext. 2.
Johnstonian News staff writer Steve Reed contributed to this report.