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Martinsburg Boys & Girls Club hosts open house

Event included a tour of a new ceiling in the gymnasium, new commercial kitchen and other improvements completed in recent years

April 03, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Stefani Pierson is the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle.
By Richard F. Belisle, Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — It’s the place where kids want to be and the place where their parents can feel good about it.

And, according to club leaders, the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle offers services to nearly 1,000 members ages 6 to 18 from the three-county area.

The Martinsburg unit has 600 members, Jefferson County has 350 and Morgan County has 250, said Stefani Pierson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle.

On Wednesday, the club’s corporate board of directors hosted a one-hour open house to showcase recent improvements made at the Martinsburg club, which meets in a city-owned former armory building at 105 W. John St.

The event included a tour of a new ceiling in the gymnasium, new commercial kitchen and other improvements completed in recent years, Pierson said.

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She’s one of four full-time employees at the three clubs. The part-time staff swells to around 30 during busy seasons, she said.

The next big project in Martinsburg is a $73,000 renovation of the gymnasium floor.

The club opened in Martinsburg in 1966. It has an annual operating budget of about $630,000, Pierson said.

During the school year, the club opens from 3 to 7 p.m. to provide school homework help, tutoring, a computer lab, table-games room, art room, photography club and basketball court. It also serves meals.

“We’re open to any kid who needs us,” Pierson said. “There are no income guidelines. It’s a family club and families help us to make it what it is.”

“This club mostly serves inner-city kids, mostly from Martinsburg proper,” said Kevin Knowles, who represents the area on his Ward II city council seat.

“Anything that touches the youth is good for the community,” Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster said during Wednesday’s tour.

“Just being here helps them. There are role models here,” he said. Lemaster said his son played basketball at the club when he was a teenager.

Twenty-Third Circuit Judge Michael Lorensen, who handles most of the circuit’s juvenile cases, said he’s interested in the club because it “provides a positive outlook for young people. It’s an asset and a resource for the community. I don’t only want to be concerned when something is going wrong.”

Retired Berkeley County educator Patrick Murphy has been running a photography club in Martinsburg for 42 years. On March 24, the local club, with expertise from three professional photographers, judged 198 photographs submitted by 22 boys and girls clubs from the Midwest, including West Virginia. They were competing for a place in the Boys & Girls Clubs Image Maker National Photography Contest in Atlanta, Murphy said.

“The judges picked 16 photographs from the 198 submitted to send to Atlanta,” he said. “Four came from a club in Omaha, Neb., and three came from our club here in Martinsburg.”

The judges were unable to identify the photographers, only their photographs, Murphy said.

The Martinsburg winners are:

  •  Jania Twyman, who photographed a feather.
  • Ivana Fitzgerald, who photographed a girl praying.
  • Nuella Boaitey, who photographed a girl in high contrast.
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