Boys & Girls club plans alumni dinner

March 24, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Pat Murphy was a pugilist before he became a politician and he owes it all to the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Boys & Girls Club.

Murphy, a member of the Berkeley County Board of Education and former county commissioner, said the single season he spent learning boxing at the downtown club under the tutelage of former city police officer Seth Jenkins more than 40 years ago taught him politics was the better, albeit less noble path, for him.

"I learned as time went on that it's better to talk your way out of things," Murphy said. "That's when I got into politics.

Murphy, whose grandfather, W.W. Murphy, boxed professionally on the same fight ticket with former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, said the Martinsburg club served as the training ground for local boxer, Noah "Dukie" Green, who went on to a brief professional boxing career.


"I hit him in the nose once and he got red eyes and I thought, 'Oh, I'm in trouble now,'" said Murphy, who described himself as a white kid with a lot of black eyes.

The club doesn't offer boxing anymore, said Executive Director Stefani Pierson, but it continues to expand its programming and it continues to play host to an ever-increasing number of area children ages 6 to 18, growing to about 550 members this year.

"It's gotten more involved as the whole idea of youth development has evolved," Pierson said. "We're trying to nourish all aspects of the child."

The local organization, which is in the midst of a merger with the clubs in Jefferson and Morgan counties, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next weekend with a special alumni fundraiser dinner that Pierson hopes will assemble past members to reminisce about its history.

"There's a lot of people in this town that have been touched by this club in one form or another," Pierson said. "There are so many nonprofits competing for local dollars, you're always looking for support and we have a huge network of people that we've affected and helped through the years."

Among them is West Virginia Sen. John Unger, who called the club a safe place to which he used to retreat at the end of each school day.

"It kept me off the streets and it kept me out of trouble," said Unger, D-Berkeley, who said he enjoyed weightlifting and playing basketball while a member there. Unger said he was a member of the club from the time he was in elementary school until he was in high school, and recalled walking from school daily to get there.

The organization continues to draw much of its membership from the nearby community, with as many as 60 percent of members residing within a two-mile radius of the club, Pierson said.

Pierson said the goal of the dinner is to bring as many former club members together as she can.

"We'd like to try to reconnect with everybody through the years," she said.

The dinner, which starts at 4 p.m. will be held April 1 at the Moose Lodge on Woodbury Avenue in Martinsburg. Tickets are available in advance for $35 or at the door for $40.

If you go ...

What: Alumni fundraising dinner for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Boys & Girls Club.

When: April 1, 4 p.m.

Where: Moose Lodge, Woodbury Avenue, Martinsburg

Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door

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