Nunn visits Boys and Girls Club
by Wes Mayer
Michelle Nunn, a candidate for U.S. Senate, and her family visited the Boys and Girls Club of Newnan on Tuesday as part of her “Working Together, Producing Results” tour.
“I spent most of my career working in volunteerism, and I have worked with the Boys and Girls Club forever,” Nunn said. “We are looking at places that showcase what happens when people work together and get real results.”
Nunn arrived in Newnan around 2 p.m., and the tour was led by the club’s director, Daryl Smith. Smith began by talking about how the Newnan location is one of 26 Boys and Girls Clubs in the metro Atlanta area, and it sees between 110 to 130 members from 6 to 18 years old every day. Smith also showed Nunn and her family the banners hanging from the ceiling at the club’s entrance, as each represent a college or university attended by either a former member of the club, a staff member or a member’s parent.
Smith showed Nunn and her family the various activity rooms in the club, including the media room where smaller kids learn about computers, the art studio, the den where many kids play games like ping pong and pool, the outdoor playground area and the gymnasium. Smith said the different areas of the center, such as the media room and art studio, are named similarly to how they would be named at a university.
Smith also showed off the Boys and Girls Club’s chant, where the kids all say they won’t grow up to be bosses, they will grow up to be CEOs. Bosses hand out checks. CEOs write them.
To better show off the positivity of the Boys and Girls Club, three of the junior staff members spoke to Nunn and her family about their experiences before and after joining the club and how it has influenced their future.
Nadia Atkinson spoke on how, without the club, she would not be where she is today – or even be here today. Instead, Atkinson recently graduated from Newnan High School, was accepted into five different colleges and has decided on Kennesaw State University. Through the “college bound” program at the Boys and Girls Club, she was not only able to visit and apply to the colleges, she also received a scholarship.
Rhonda Jones also recently graduated from Newnan High School and plans on majoring in psychology at Savannah State University. Jones has taken up a place behind the front desk of the club, and Smith said she is very thorough and respectful to everyone who enters.
“The club is a place of freedom,” Jones said, “and everyone is accepting regardless of the past.”
Nunn asked Jones what she thought the magic of the Boys and Girls Club was – Jones said it was how other people of different backgrounds can come together, and being able to see graduates do well provides the motivation for members to take those extra steps.
And third, Ty Herring, a baseball standout at Newnan High School, spoke to Nunn about how the club helped him overcome his anger and changed his attitude. Herring said he was not brought up around the right people, and his father wasn’t always around, so Smith became a great father figure for him. With one year left of high school, Herring said he is still deciding between playing baseball in college or professionally.
Nunn asked him how the Boys and Girls Club worked for his anger management, and Herring said the club helped him realize that his anger wouldn’t get him anywhere, and nobody wanted to be near him when he was frustrated on the field.
To end the tour, Smith talked about how he personally connects with all the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, and he told a story of a kid who was so tired of not having money, he decided to sell drugs. Fortunately, that kid’s friends forced him to go play basketball at the Boys and Girls Club – now he is the club’s director.
Nunn is visiting numerous small towns in Georgia during her tour in order to find individuals who have been able to come together to solve problems and get results.