|Community welcomes club leader |
|Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:29 pm |
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
When Vencent Bell of Chattanooga visited Union City recently, he was the subject of intense interest for two reasons.
Bell and his wife of 25 years, special education teacher Vanessa Bell, are the parents of two sons who are athletes and outstanding students. Volonte Bell is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he plays basketball. The younger son in the family is Vonn Bell, a junior at Ridgeland High School in Georgia, where his football expertise has made him one of the top recruits by more than two dozen top-tier colleges across the nation, already.
Many local sports fans relished the idea of having the parents of such students in their midst and were delighted at the prospect of meeting Bell.
However, Bell’s visit was of even more importance to this area for another reason: he was recently named the new chief professional officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee and will be assuming his local duties May 14.
The organization which provides a safe, entertaining, educational and valuable haven for children and youth throughout the local community — and since August, in Humboldt — will welcome Bell with two receptions. The first is planned for 4-6 p.m. May 22 at the Obion County Public Library at 1221 East Reelfoot Ave. in Union City. The second will be May 24 at 6 p.m. at Humboldt Boys & Girls Club in the downtown area adjacent to First Christian Church.
“I am excited about the potential of the new position,” Bell said. “I am also looking forward to building on and expanding the effort to make the facility an overall quality and fun place for the children to want to come to and have an educational, fun and safe experience.
“It is going to take a community effort to make sure all these things take place, so I am looking forward to working with everyone in the community to make sure this happens.”
The new CPO brings to the organization, which is responsible for both the Union City and Humboldt clubs and which will be seeking to begin even more clubs throughout northwest Tennessee, 24 years of experience with the YMCA. His skill set includes staff development, board development, fund raising expertise and programs background.
Bell, a native of Mississippi and a graduate of Murray State (Ky.) University, where he majored in education with a minor in youth administration, will move to Union City in early May, although his family will remain in East Tennessee until Vonn Bell graduates in 2013.
Mrs. Bell grew up in Paducah, Ky., and still has family in that area and in Brownsville, so this part of the country is familiar to the family.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee opened the doors of the local club in the late fall of 2004, with Ron Green, another Mississippian, as the CPO. Green resigned his position, which had seen the local club grow to serve more than 1,400 youngsters during the years it has been open and which had encouraged and overseen the start-up of the Humboldt club, to accept a similar job in North Carolina just after the first of the year.
In the months while the club has been without an official CPO, club program director Tracy Boucher has worked with staff to keep programs thriving and to continue the work of the club.
“The board of directors is excited about welcoming Mr. Bell as our new CPO,” said Clint Joiner, who has been a member of that organization since local citizens first began planning for such a facility several years ago. He currently serves as board development director.
“We are grateful to Ron Green for the excellent start he gave our two clubs and feel the efforts of Ms. Boucher and Andrea Stewart with the Humboldt club and their staffs have kept us on track and in good shape to welcome Mr. Bell. We invite the community to the receptions in his honor and know they will make him feel welcome as he begins his service with us,” Joiner said. Published in The Messenger 4.26.12