2016 in Review

January 12, 2017

2016 was a great year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mountain Empire. Here are just a few highlights of our events.

In April, we hosted our 24th Annual "Steak & Stake" Banquet at the Bristol, Tennessee unit. Historically, the "Steak & Stake" Banquet is an event where the "stake-holders" (donors) share a "steak" with their beneficiaries (club kids). The following leaders were recognized for service to the club and community: Linda Parker Browder, Rogers McCall, Lora & Don Henderson, James Maxwell, Randy White, Central Presbyterian Church, Jacobs Creek Job Corps, and Brian Poe. It was a nice opportunity for some of our children to have dinner with community leaders.

During the summer months, we were busy with full operating days at both the Tennessee and Virginia units. Open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and snacks, we provided hundreds of kids a safe place to come every day. Each week, children were taken on field trips and encouraged to participate in special programs such as Triple Play. (This is a program designed to stimulate mind, body and soul.) Many of our kids took the summer reading challenge and read over 100 books! Others enjoyed partnering with Appalachian Sustainable Development and Central Presbyterian Church for the garden program. They tilled the soil, planted and tended the garden, harvested, and cooked the food they grew. In an effort to reduce hunger, children were allowed to take surplus veggies home to their families. They are excited about getting back in the dirt again this spring!

Another huge event for us was the Battle for Club Kids. All summer they prepared physically for a great battle between the Tennessee and Virginia clubs. On the day of the big event, they competed in kickball games, human Tic-Tac-Toe, Capture-the-Flag and Presidential Fitness Tests. The Virginia Club won the battle for fitness competition, but the Tennessee Club brought in the most money. Each team was presented a trophy to display at their respective clubs. All kids were winners!

The Zella Moore Arnold family was instrumental in making the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mountain Empire what it is today. In recognition of Ms. Arnold, we held a building dedication in her honor in August. Several members of the Arnold family were present, including Jack Arnold, for whom the Teen Center is named. It was at this time that we also named the games room in honor of Mr. Joe Arnold. We are thankful to the Arnold family for what they have done to enable young people in our community to become responsible citizens.

In November, we held our first annual Australian Dress Down Under fundraising event at the Bristol Train Station. Outback Steakhouse provided steak bites and onion petals, Shelbees Vintage Café gave us delicious salads, Moe's Southwest Grill set us up with appetizers and the meal was topped off with amazing desserts from Blackbird Bakery. Recording artist, Lance Stinson, provided some amazing entertainment. The silent and live auctions were lots of fun with the star of the evening being an Australian Shepherd puppy that was auctioned.

In December, we received an amazing gift from Books-A-Million and the community. Through the help of BAM and the generous folks in our area, we were given over $9,000 in books and toys for our children! This made a huge difference in the libraries at both Tennessee and Virginia locations. THANKS A MILLION BOOKS-A-MILLION!

Throughout the year, we were also blessed through partnerships with several other businesses including Gap, Old Navy, Alumni Hall, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Buffalo Wild Wings. We would like to sincerely thank the following businesses for their continued support through the years: Friendship Family of Dealerships, Strongwell Corporation, J.A. Street and Associates, Seaver & Pittman, First Bank & Trust, Lopez Wealth Management, Food Country USA, United Coal Company Foundation, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, Eastman Credit Union, Bank of Tennessee, Highlands Union Bank, Quaker Steak & Lube, Meade Tractor, The Clarke Charitable Foundation, along with many other charitable personal donors. We have found that there are many truly generous people in our area and we are thankful for your kindness to our club kids. They need you and you are making a difference. Thanks for making 2016 a great year for over 750 kids in the Mountain Empire!