City gives $10K to BGC

Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Gerkin, left, gives BGC Executive Director Ryon Wheeler a check for $10,000 that was donated by the City of North Vernon. It was approved by the City Council after Wheeler addressed the board about forming a financial partnership with them at their Oct. 13 meeting.

Those who gathered at Willow Lake Event Center last Wednesday at the early hour of 7 a.m. for the first ever Boys & Girls Club (BGC) for Jennings County fundraiser were rewarded with breakfast and the knowledge that they are helping a good cause.

BGC is an organization over a century old, dating back to 1860 according to Executive Director Ryon Wheeler, but its presence in Jennings has only been established for approximately a year and a half. It is a before and after school program that aims to help children in three areas: 1. Academic Success 2. Healthy Lifestyles and 3. Good Character and Citizenship.

BGC of JC hit the ground running in January of 2020 and persevered through the setbacks of a global pandemic. They started out by launching a pilot program in Hayden and Graham Creek elementary schools with the help of the Jennings County Youth Foundation, Decatur Mold and Madison Correctional Facility, and now have a presence in every elementary school in the county with several other local donors backing them, including the City of North Vernon, which agreed to donate $10,000 to the club. BCG is also opening up a clubhouse in Country Squire Lakes. Approximately 100 local kids a day are served through this organization.

“We want to turn 100 into 200 kids a day,” said Wheeler.

Their budget for the next few years is $400,000, and so far, they have managed to raise $265,000. A majority of their annual budget goes towards their trained and educated staff. Their Board of Directors includes Jeff Walker, Teresa Brown, Joanie Van Horn, Kathy Ertel, Judy Ertel, Meredith Morin, Kyle and Brittany Layman, Nick Megel, Rachel Cruser, Rhonda Hoerle, Gary Green, and Bruce Wynn.

Decatur Mold challenged those who attended the fundraiser to match their donation of $25,000. According to Wheeler, Wednesday’s event alone raised an amazing $70,000, but more is needed.

“Kids are our most precious resource,” said Wheeler. “It’s going to take a lot to make sure these kids have this opportunity for years to come.”

BGC is asking for help to fulfill a CSL Wish List of supplies needed for their new clubhouse, including art, office, classroom, game and gym supplies. Contact amanda@bgcsey.org for a complete list. All items can be found on their Amazon wish list.

For general questions about Boys & Girls Club Jennings County, contact info@bgcsey.org or call 812-522-2434.