Nathan Wilson | Reporter
The Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana (BAGC) hosted a who’s who of Natchitoches’ civic-minded citizens at a community breakfast Feb. 25.
BAGC President and CEO Rhyan Wheeler introduced local luminaries ranging from Senator Louie Bernard, Mayor Ronnie Williams and former Mayor Lee Posey to speak on the importance of the Boy’s and Girls Club. She also thanked sponsors such as Natchitoches’ big five manufacturers, Weyerhaeuser, Alliance Compressors, International Paper, Pilgrim’s and RoyOMartin.
The Keynote speaker at the event was Chief Operations Officer for BAGC, Lorraine Orr. She elaborated on the support that clubs nationwide have on the lives of children, and pointed to metrics such as increased high school graduation, college attendance and volunteerism rates among participants.
Touching on a host of metrics BAGC uses for self-assessment, Orr emphasized that children’s safety is of paramount importance. “Boys and Girls Club is the safest place in every community,” she asserted. Along with the security that BAGC activities provide while participants are on site, they also support children and teens through personal crises ranging from loss of a parent to academic delays.
Closing her speech, Orr stressed the commitment BAGC is making by opening a branch in Natchitoches. To her, sustainability refers to the club’s ability to maintain services within the community by securing commitments from volunteers and donors. Noting that the impact of Boys and Girls Clubs’ daily activities are felt decades into the future, she reflected on the importance of her work. “I have the opportunity to change the trajectory of a nation,” she said.
The Natchitoches branch of BAGC is scheduled to open with a ribbon cutting event March 21 and will serve approximately 100 students. Registration will begin soon, with activities led by Director De’Andrea “Coach D” Sanders. The Natchitoches BCGA is accepting employment and volunteer applications and contributions to support club activities.