Spirit of Thanksgiving fills the Boys & Girls Club

Robin Crumley, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County, with Bryan Lauzon of the local American Legion post. PHOTOS BY DAVE ONGIE

By Dave Ongie, News Editor

There are quite a few things Robin Crumley finds herself missing as the year 2020 mercifully draws to a close.

She misses giving hugs and seeing the smiles that are now concealed behind masks. She misses being in a room with a bunch of people, all breathing the same air with no fear of becoming sick.

But last Thursday, Crumley’s heart was filled with thankfulness as children and their families were able to gather at the Boys & Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County for the club’s annual Thanksgiving meal. With the help of Post 24 of the American Legion, around 150 meals were given out.

“Today we get to have a day of blessing and Thanksgiving for all the wonderful things that have come our way this year,” said Crumley, president and CEO of the club. “Just being able to invite families to come and eat a meal together while social distancing in an environment of fun is just something we’ve been lacking this year, so it was really good that we were able to open our doors for that.”

Members of the American Legion Post 24 help prepare a Thanksgiving meal for kids and their families last Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club.

Crumley wasn’t the only one who had an easy time finding things to be thankful for near the end of this roller coaster of a year. The kids at the club were also able to rattle off plenty of things to be thankful for with family appearing as a constant in most of their answers.

More than anything, 2020 has taught us all not to take anything for granted. Back in January, before COVID-19 shut down so many aspects of our everyday lives, it was clear during her remarks at the club’s annual dinner that Crumley valued her staff a great deal.

But last Thursday, she marveled at the ability her staff has shown in subsequent months to adapt to the constant state of change that has existed during the pandemic, from implementing new health and safety protocols to helping students with their remote learning during the school day so the kids’ parents and guardians can go to work.

“The fact that they can take a lemon and make lemonade out of it is phenomenal,” Crumley said. “That’s not what they were hired to do, so they are stepping out of their comfort zone. Virtual learning is new to everybody, whether it be teachers, students, parents guardians or staff.”

The reality of COVID-19 has also required Crumley to adapt the club’s annual fundraiser. Instead of staging a Murder Mystery dinner event, a virtual fundraiser was developed to help the club raise funds during a 48-day social media campaign to celebrate the 48 years the club has occupied its current home on West Market Street.

Kids and staff members enjoy their Thanksgiving meal.

Each day between now and the end of the year, one year in the club’s history will be highlighted along with a summary of what the club has done and continues to do to improve the lives of children and their families in our community.

“What a great way to highlight each year and what we have done, and all the different things we continue to do whether it be academic success, healthy lifestyles, good character or leadership,” Crumley said.
Crumley’s hope is that alumni are able to reconnect via Facebook and reminisce about the time they spent at the club and the role it played in their lives.

“We’re just asking them to go out on Facebook and write some comments about remembering doing tee-ball when they were 3 and what that meant to them, and maybe what that’s given them now that they are older and doing other things,” Crumley said.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the Boys & Girls club of Johnson City/Washington County or wanting to make a contribution to the fundraiser can find more information at www.gokidz.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BoysandGirlsClubofJohnsonCityWashingtonCounty.


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