75 years of growth, and counting

The John Avery Boys and Girls Club will kick-off a week-long celebration Sept. 28 in recognition of its 75th anniversary.

It all began on March 16, 1939,  when a Durham Juvenile Court judge urged the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs to address the issue of juvenile delinquency.

Teacher Regina Diaz and student Mose Cannon read a book as Matthew Graves retrieves a basketball.

Teacher Regina Diaz and student Mose Cannon read a book as Matthew Graves retrieves a basketball.

Two months later, a Boys Club was formed which (after 47 years, a relocation and a basement expansion) became the John Avery Boys and Girls Club, Inc. The club now has two branches at Damar Court and Birchwood Heights.

Damian Ferguson, an eighth-grader at Sherwood Githens Middle School, said his first experiences at the club four years ago were boring because of all the homework. But all of that changed when he realized the club is what kept him out of trouble—fighting and stealing.

“They put me in sports and started helping me get my grades up,” said Ferguson, who will graduate from middle school in the spring and then attend Charles E. Jordan High School.

The John Avery Boys and Girls Club elementary and middle school students stick to a structured schedule of recreation, homework and Project Learn— a learning session that allows students to gain knowledge on their topics of choice. The high school students have more leisure time than the younger kids, and have access to computers and a television.

“Every staff member that works here is a college grad,” said Green. “If not, [they are] in a master’s program. We definitely put a lot into what we’re putting into the kids.”

Dianne Lynn, a mother of two, is grateful to the john Avery Boys and Girls Club because of what it has done for her adopted son, Timothy James.

“This has been a blessing to save that boy because he was hitting a lot of trouble,” said Lynn. “This was our last alternative for help or he was going to be locked up.”

Lynn said Timothy and his sister Kayla have been in and out of the foster system, and the club has offered them and other kids support and stability.

The club also has classrooms, a garden, a gymnasium and even serves a donated dinner to students in need every day.

“There are a lot of kids that go home and really don’t have anything to eat,” said Lynn.

The Club’s celebratory events begin Monday, Sept. 29, with a Harlem Wizards Charity basketball game at Southern High School, followed the next day by the Club’s annual JABGC Golf Fore Kids Tournament.

The rest of the week will feature a whiskey tasting, a business and JABGC alumni networking mixer and a jazz concert.

The celebration concludes Oct. 4 with the 75th Anniversary Diamond Gala, a black-tie fundraiser at the Durham Convention Center.