The Boys & Girls Club of Phillips County has just returned from San Francisco and an information-packed three-day meeting exploring some of the most pressing issues concerning the well being of America’s young people. A group of three lead by Executive Director Jason Rolett joined some 3,200 other Boys & Girls Club professionals and board members attending the 102nd Annual National Conference for Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

While at the conference the Boys and Girls Club of Phillips County received the prestigious gold award for best Boys & Girls Club publication in the country. The local Boys and Girls Club’s 2006 Annual Report earned the highest honor such a publication can receive from the national BGCA organization, the Gold Marketing and Communication (MAC) Award. The award is presented to only a select few of the more than 4,300 Clubs nationwide.

“Receiving the MAC award really topped off a terrific conference for us,” said Board President Tim Schuringa, who along with Rolett was joined by board member Bernadette Messina at the event. “It really speaks to the terrific job Jason and his staff have been doing for the past two years and the strong community support we’ve received,” said Schuringa, noting that the winning annual report was designed mainly with volunteer help. Messina said the award was “the culmination of tenacity, talent and teamwork.”

One of the most popular events at the conference was the Alumni Hall of Fame Ceremony where this year’s inductees – Los Angeles’ Mayor The Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa; MLB All-Star Dan Haren; NFL Hall of Famer Steve Largent; NFL referee Mike Carey; NBA All-Star Spud Webb; Chief Operating Officer of McCann Worldgroup in San Francisco Joe Burton; Joint Force Headquarters Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Earl Gay; BGCA Hall of Fame Inductee Craig Fitzgerald; renowned architect Timothy Holland; founder of top orthopedic company Greg Nelson and President of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assoc. Dr. Dayna Wiedenkeller – received a standing ovation following their poignant remarks about how important the Club was to them in their childhood and how it taught them the importance of giving back. Law & Order star and Boys and Girls Club alum Courtney Vance served as emcee.

“We wanted to present proof positive that Boys & Girls Clubs of America has made a lasting impact on society, and honoring these outstanding alumni certainly illustrates this point,” said Roxanne Spillett, BGCA president and CEO.

One noteworthy session included alarming statistics on the “silent epidemic” of high school dropouts and Boys & Girls Club’s response with programs such as Goals for Graduation, Power Hour, Club Tech and CareerLaunch. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Laura Stepp presented a frank discussion on the increasing level of negative peer pressure facing today’s young women and encouraged Boys & Girls Club professionals and volunteers to take the necessary action to reduce high-risk behavior, including premature sexual activity and drug and alcohol abuse.

Both local board members and staff were also drawn to the entertaining and timely discussion on the hip hop culture presented by author and activist Kevin Powell. Powell, who was a part of the original cast for the first season of MTV’s Real World, has penned or edited three books, including Recognize, Keepin’ It Real: Post-MTV Reflections on Race, Sex and Politics, Step Into A World and Who Shot Ya?

Powell called on the hip-hop generation to grow up. “I think it is embarrassing when you see individuals in their late 20s through their late 30s still acting like children,” said Powell. “Not being serious about anything. Not owning up to any level of responsibility.”

Equally compelling were the remarks of business guru and BGCA alum Jim Collins. Author of the best-selling From Good to Great, Collins encouraged board members and executive directors alike to approach their Boys & Girls Clubs with the same business-like savvy, to illustrate the excellent return on investment their organizations offer their respective communities their organizations offer communities.

This year’s conference also served as the eighth anniversary of Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids (www.dayforkids.org). Club staff and board members learned about plans for this year’s celebration, slated for Sept. 20, which will feature more than 1,200 events involving millions – all celebrating the importance of adults spending meaningful time with the children in their lives.

“The Super Session on bullying lead by Michael Dorn was right on target for us because of all the many negative influences the youth we serve are facing,” said Rolett of the Boys & Girls Club of Phillips County. “Overall, the conference gave us great ideas, and most importantly, the opportunity to network with other Boys & Girls Clubs who are facing many of the same challenges we are here in Phillips County.” Messina had this to say about the conference “It was the most rewarding trip I have ever taken.”

The Boys & Girls Club has played an integral role in Phillips County for two years, providing daily programs and services to over 250 young people. The Club is open Monday thru Friday, offering programs in character and leadership development, education and career enhancement, the arts, health and life skills and sports, fitness and recreation. The renovation of the former H&M Lumber building into an 18,800 square-foot youth facility is currently under way and should be completed by early fall.

Visit www.boysandgirlspc.org for a PDF of the award-winning Annual Report and for additional information about the current construction project — or contact Jason Rolett at 572-1711.