The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley celebrated 75 years of serving the community Friday with the launch of its 75 Blue Doors public art project.
The project is designed to symbolize the impact the clubs make: "opening doors to a great future" for local youth.
One side of the door is painted the shade of blue that was the original color of the doors at the Boys & Girls Clubs. That side also will have the celebration's logo. The other side of the doors will contain depictions of the project's theme, painted by volunteers teaming with club members.
"It's important to try and encourage kids to express themselves through art," said Wendy McReynolds, director of strategic development for the local clubs. "This is an opportunity for them to experience that."
The doors will be on display in Lakebottom at some point during the citywide ArtBeat of Columbus festival March 13-28. The doors then will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the clubs.
The celebrations gives the clubs a chance to show the community they offer more than just recreation to local children ages 6-18.
"There's so much more to it than that," McReynolds said. "There are great programs that focus on our three core areas: character/leadership, education and healthy lifestyles."
Mike Molinaro, the public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, is volunteering on this project as part of his bachelor's degree program in public relations at Columbus State University. Molinaro, along with three other CSU students, chose this project among four nonprofit organizations that pitched their ideas.
"We picked this project because our youth is our future," Molinaro said. "A lot of these kids really rely on this club. They do their homework here. They learn computer skills here. They get to learn a lot of things they might not get to learn if they just went home after school.
"We need to keep it going and make sure the community knows about it. Sometimes we take for granted great things like this, so it's always good to raise more awareness about these awesome organizations that help our children."
Bill Jordan started the local chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs in 1937. Since then, it has grown to serve more than 3,200 children in five clubs each year and 850 children daily.
McReynolds thanked the following organizations for helping to produce the project: 98.3 FM The Beat, Chick-fil-A, Columbus State University, Contract Hardware & Associates, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Harper Construction, Home Depot, Reaves Salvage and Ruth Ann's Restaurant.
According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a national survey of alumni shows the nonprofit organization has made the following positive impact:
57 percent said the club saved their life.
91 percent are satisfied with their adult life.
67 percent attributed their ability to avoid difficulty with the law to the influence of club staff.
67 percent said the club is where they learned how to "say no" to drugs and alcohol.
28 percent said they would have dropped out of high school if not for the club.
51 percent achieved a higher level of education than they thought possible because of attending the club.
80 percent said the club had a positive impact on their attitude toward fitness and health.
34 percent of black male alumni earned a four-year college degree, compared to that demographic's overall rate of 16 percent.
LEARN MOREFor more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley, including how to join, volunteer or donate, call 706-596-9330 or log on www.bgc-colsga.org.