Boys and Girls Club benefits from First Lady’s Luncheon
Posted: Friday, July 2, 2010 5:55 am
Special Features Editor
“It is an honor to recognize The Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee for the valuable contribution they make to the youth of our area,” says Betty Ann Tanner of Union City, wife of Congressman John Tanner. “As a mother and grandmother, I know the importance of a safe haven for learning valuable life skills. We are happy to support their mission of helping young people reach their potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.”
Mrs. Tanner’s support for the local organization, which serves the after-school and summer and school vacation needs of more than 1,400 children in this area, took tangible form recently when she suggested the local club be a recipient of the donation made annually in honor of the First Lady of the United States at the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington.
Mrs. Tanner, whose son, Portis Tanner, is a member of the local Boys & Girls Club board of directors, was chairman of the luncheon in April this year. She said Mrs. Obama’s interest in the health and well-being of America’s youth made the gift to the local club a natural fit.
“I am so proud of the club and the good job Ron Green does with this program,” Mrs. Tanner added in announcing that the club is one of only four recipients of donations from this year’s luncheon.
The Congressional Club, which hosts the festive First Lady’s Luncheon, was founded in 1908 by wives of members of Congress, the Supreme Court and members of the President’s Cabinet with the purpose of providing for non-partisan friendship during their time in Washington. Through the years, the focus has been enlarged to encompass “spouses” rather than “wives.” The spouses of the president, vice president and Speaker of the House have received honorary membership.
The club has honored the First Lady every year since 1912, with the exception of a couple of years during World War II.
The 2010 event was staged at the Washington Hilton International Ballroom and had as its theme “Illumination Celebration,” with emphasis on volunteers who “light the way” for others.
Among the 1,800 guests were Mrs. Obama; Paul Pelosi, husband of the Speakr of the House; and Deborah Boehner, wife of the Minority Leader of the House of Represnetives.
Mrs. Tanner introduced distinguished guests as chairman of the event and entertainment was provided by Marvin Hamlisch with Julia Murney and J. Mark McVey. The United States Marine Band was responsible for music prior to the luncheon.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee has been in operation since November 2004 at the site of the former Miles School in Union City. Average daily attendance for children and youth, who share the space at different times of day, is around 200 during the school year and 300 during the summer program. Those attending have access to a number of character-building, mind-enriching and body-strengthening programs and can also receive a snack during after-school programs and a free breakfast, lunch and snack during the summer program.
The board of directors hopes to begin work on renovating the former Central Elementary School, just west of the present location, very soon. Once that historically significant structure is ready to receive children, both younger members and teens will be able to enjoy the facilities and programs at the same time but in different portions of the building.
The club will soon kick off its annual major fund-raiser, the sale of raffle tickets. While the local Boys & Girls Club has been able to apply for and receive some support through grants for specific programs provided by the club, funding day-to-day operations — particularly with the challenge of preparing and outfitting a new club space and staffing and supporting the new programs that will then be possible — the most vital support for the club comes from the generosity of local donors who believe in the work being done for some of the most vulnerable children and youth in our community.
To find out more about Boys & Girls Club of Union City, visit the club at 1015 East College St. or call 885-0883. Club CPO Ron Green and members of the board of directors are available to speak to groups in the community, as well. One-time gifts to the club are always gratefully received, but regular pledge giving is a major boon to the board of directors as they work with the club’s budget, according to board chairman Clay Woods.