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AmeriCorps gives Martinsburg Boys & Girls Club a facelift

April 18, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The old carpet and dull walls of the Martinsburg Boys & Girls Club have been replaced with new tile and bright colors thanks to the work of 10 volunteers with the National Civilian Community Corps, an umbrella organization of AmeriCorps.

The volunteers arrived in the first week of April and were expected to remain for five weeks revamping the old building, but the fast pace of their efforts will probably have them moving on next week, said team member Holly Bottomly, 24, of Walterboro, S.C.

During their stay the group has brought hot water back into the building, replaced shower fixtures, painted walls, laid down new tile and expanded the kitchen.

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Allicia Cook, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said she was notified by a representative with the Family Resource Network about a grant from AmeriCorps that would help with the much needed renovations, so she applied in December.

She was notified that the grant was accepted in January, and a representative from the organization went through the building to see what was needed and determine how long the volunteers would need to stay to finish the project.

The project was designed to brighten up the club and make it safer for the children who use it, Cook said.

"This is a place where (children) can come feel safe, build an education, succeed and have fun," she said.

The club is in charge of providing food and housing for the volunteers.

Revamping the building isn't all the volunteers are doing at the club.

"We are making the place look better but a lot of us spend our off-hours working with the kids in some capacity," Bottomly said.

She said aside from painting, pulling up carpet and tearing down walls, group members have used their personal expertise to come up with some ideas for the club such as more structured programs, art programs, tutorials and sporting activities.

"This has been our first experience with children and with so many different activities we all found something we could identify with," Bottomly said.

The AmeriCorps NCCC program is a 10-month residential program for people ages 18-24 and was created by President Clinton in 1994.

At the end of the 10 months, the volunteers are given $4,765 to go toward student loans or future education goals.

Judith Boykin, executive director of Family Resource Network of the Panhandle Inc., said she hopes the presence of the AmeriCorps volunteers will make other students in the area look at national service as another venue to pursue after high school.

"We are hoping they leave a legacy," she said.

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