WILMINGTON -- It's an organization that serves nearly five million young people across the country. Wednesday the local Boys and Girls Club celebrated the end of Black History Month by looking at where it's been and where it's going. The original Boys and Girls Club of Wilmington was founded in 1938, in a USO building on Nixon Street. A new building went up in the same location in 1977. Today, it serves more than 400 local kids, from kindergarten to high-school age, with after-school and weekend programs. Adolph Richard is not only the baseball coordinator at the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club, he also grew up around the program. He says today, even though the center's message is the same, the challenges are different. Richard said, "One of the biggest problems we have around Wilmington right now is the gang problem. A lot of parents and teachers are worried about those types of things. I think with the kids coming here, they're not on the street and they have a chance to keep their heads in the books." In honor of Black History Month, community leaders and kids came together Wednesday to look at where the Boys and Girls Club has been and where it's going. While the center's directors want to maintain and expand on current programs, they're facing a 60-70 percent cutback in federal and state grants, meaning they now have to get 90 percent of their money from private sources. Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Wayne Lofton said, "What we're looking to do is expand our donor base by expressing a greater concern and interest in our community for the benefit of kid development as far as after-school programs are concerned." The plan seems to be working. Barnes & Noble recently donated 2,000 books for their library. There are also mentoring programs. Several days a week, college students come to the center to teach kids baseball. WPD officers also volunteer their time to give the kids pointers on the basketball court. It's all about building camaraderie at the Boys and Girls Club. Perhaps the best tool of all for keeping kids on the right track. The kids at the Boys and Girls Club are launching their own newsletter focusing on issues that affect them.
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