National Boys & Girls Clubs leader makes first visit to south MS

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast put out the welcome mat Tuesday for a very special guest.  For the first time, the president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America visited the Qatar Center at Pass Christian. After a tour of the facility, he called it one of the best centers in the country.

Since taking over as the head of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in January, Jim Clark has visited units all over the country. He seemed quite impressed with what he saw on his first visit to the Qatar Center at Pass Christian.

"I've heard a lot about this club. It's a great organization with great leadership. It's absolutely fabulous!" said Clark. "The facility is wonderful, of course, but it's more than just about a building. It's about what happens inside these walls that's special."

Clark specifically pointed out the center's partnership with the Pass Christian School District, like sharing its gym with the middle school next door and providing after-school tutoring.

"What's unique here is teachers, staff members at the Boys and Girls Clubs working together to improve the lives of kids who need us most around academic success," said Clark. "This is a shining example of how a collaborative effort can produce greater results.

Pass Christian Middle School teacher Charlene Stephens told Clark that the tutoring program has made a big difference in her students, and she gave a lot of credit to the dedicated staff.

"I know you're not thanked enough, but we thank you as a teacher, as a parent," said Stephens. "We know it's a sacrifice and the love that you show, the compassion and the care that you show every day, it means something."

Clark called it a smart move sharing resources at a time when Boys and Girls Clubs are challenged with helping more children with less funding.

"That individual is a powerful voice in helping secure funding for local communities, so his coming and seeing how well we're doing following our successes academically and so forth is rather extraordinary," said Dr. David Spinks, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast Executive Director.

"I've got to applaud you too for what you've done here with the school. I think this is a model that others can use and follow across the country," Clark told the staff, board members, and some community leaders who came to meet him. "Thank you for what you're doing too. I appreciate that."

Clark also visited the Boys and Girls Club at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Tuesday, as well as the units in Covington County and Collins, Mississippi.

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