Boys and Girls club gets a boost

Published 1:49 am Friday, July 11, 2003

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- A few years ago Mary McFarland had a vision for the children of Cass County. That dream continues to take shape and was recently helped with a $15,000 boost from President George Bush's Faith Based Initiative.
The Boys and Girls Club of Cass County has had a home -- the old Haymarket Antiques barn on Decatur Road through the Edward Lowe Foundation -- but the rooms have been empty.
With purchases from Edwardsburg Schools, there are now desks and tables. A row of computers sit ready to roll, attached to a printing station. Ping pong tables and other games are set up.
When operational, this would be the first rural Boys and Girls Club in the country.
This weekend, thanks to Midwest Timber in Edwardsburg, volunteers will be constructing handicapped ramps. Still accessible restroom facilities are needed.
Eventually, the grounds will offer a place for the children to go to learn and play, after school and on Saturdays.
The grant not only brought money, but also a consultant, Erika Oliver, from the Training Institute of Kalamazoo, who with others will work with McFarland and other volunteers, teaching classes on fundraising, grant writing, publicity, and other skills needed to get the project off the ground and put children in the building.
Cass County has 9,230 children, ages six through 19, 19.1 percent who live in poverty, offers McFarland, board president. There is also a high rate of high school dropouts and abuse and neglect.
Office hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Call (269) 445-1601 for more information, or to volunteer your help.