'Grandma' healing Boys & Girls Club

January 27, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

She may be called Grandma, but Sharron Taylor is not baking cookies for the children who attend the Boys & Girls Club in Martinsburg.

She's more likely worrying about the club's old building, trying to recruit volunteers or implementing new programs for a club that was disheartened when the former interim director was arrested in August 2002 and charged with two felony counts of embezzlement.

Glenn Stanley Jr., 37, is accused of using club money to buy two older-model sports cars and pay for a relative's funeral.


Although the arrest happened more than five months ago, Taylor said the effects still reverberate throughout the club.

"We get hassled about the money," said Taylor, who took over as acting director after Stanley was arrested. "Some people have thanked me because I kept (the club) open and some people are still leery."

Counselors came in after the arrest and talked with the children, some of whom looked up to Stanley as a father figure. Taylor said she considered Stanley to be like a brother.

As Stanley's criminal case makes its way through the court system, Taylor continues her quest to improve the club.

First, though, she needs to get everyone signed in.

Standing in the hallway of the club, Taylor checks a piece of paper then peers into the games room, where children are playing pool on old, scuffed tables, arcing balls across a Ping-Pong table or sitting in front of arcade games.

"Did everyone sign in?" she asks loudly. "I got more kids than I see on this paper."

Making sure everyone who uses the club signs in is one of the new procedures Taylor started.

Next to the sign-in sheet are pieces of paper listing activities and classes children can attend. Among the week's offerings: art, black history, Bible study, music, home economics and drug and alcohol counseling.

Also available are classes called "Girl Talk" and "Boy Talk" in which gender-specific concerns are addressed.

When the bell tolls 5 a short time later, Taylor is on the move again. For the next hour, children with homework must do it in one of three study rooms. Others have basketball practice upstairs and those with neither head to the arts and crafts room.

Taylor hopes to bring in guest speakers to address the children. She plans to start naming a Member of the Month.

Other plans include possibly taking well-behaved children to the movies, or maybe even a professional basketball or baseball game. She hopes to start holding pool and table tennis tournaments.

Taylor said she plans to start opening the program, now open from Monday to Thursday, on Fridays soon.

In the winter, about 25 to 30 children use the club, which is open from 3 to 7 p.m. In the summer, when the hours change to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the number of children who attend often is double or even higher.

Some of the children are especially attached to the club.

"They don't want to go home," Taylor said. "A lot of these kids come from broken homes and they struggle."

Embezzlement case

Stanley was arrested Aug. 23, three days after police learned that money from the club was missing and checks had been forged.

According to police records, Stanley is accused of using club money to buy a 1984 Nissan 300 ZX for $600 and a 1985 Nissan 300 ZX for $1,100, both from AEZ Auto Sales Inc. in Martinsburg.

Both of those cars have since been seized by police.

A second check, made out for $889, was allegedly used to pay for the funeral of Stanley's uncle in Baltimore, records show.

On both checks, Stanley allegedly forged the signature of Mark Sutton, vice president of the Boys & Girl's Club's board of directors.

Since his arrest, Stanley posted bond and was released after spending time in Eastern Regional Jail.

The magistrate hearing the case has not yet scheduled a preliminary hearing.

If probable cause is found at the preliminary hearing, the case will be bound over to Circuit Court for possible grand jury indictment and trial.

Embezzlement carries a prison sentence of one to 10 years.

Stanley had been the club's interim director for about three months at the time of his arrest.

Changes imminent

Chris Janelle, president of the club's board of directors and a partner with Sutton in a Martinsburg law firm, said changes are imminent at the club.

Changes in administration will be made to better prepare the club for the "long term," Janelle said. He declined to elaborate.

Some children stopped coming to the club after Stanley's arrest, but attendance numbers are starting to increase, he said.

He praised the current staff.

"The people that have remained have done a great job. They're very motivated and they're great kids," he said.

Support from the United Way and the community helped the club "bounce back," Janelle said.

With summer ahead, Janelle said club officials are trying to secure grants and arrange for programming.

A Valentine's Day adult dance is one of the club's biggest fund-raisers, he said.

Currently at work on the club's budget, Janelle said it will be less than $100,000.

Lacking support

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