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It's official The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois is expanding to Marion

  • Scott Murrie left, Marion Task Force and Tina Carpenter right, CEO, BGCSI accept a donation of $10,000 from Glenn and Jo Poshard of The Poshard Foundation for Abused Children.

    Scott Murrie left, Marion Task Force and Tina Carpenter right, CEO, BGCSI accept a donation of $10,000 from Glenn and Jo Poshard of The Poshard Foundation for Abused Children.
    Kristin Moore photo

  • Marion Mayor Mike Absher told those gathered on Tuesday morning about the potential and opportunity for children of Southern Illinois to excel throughout life with help from The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois, coming soon to Marion.

    Marion Mayor Mike Absher told those gathered on Tuesday morning about the potential and opportunity for children of Southern Illinois to excel throughout life with help from The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois, coming soon to Marion.
    Kristin Moore photo

  • Several gather for an introduction to The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois coming soon to Marion.

    Several gather for an introduction to The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois coming soon to Marion.
    Kristin Moore photo

  • Carol Bastien and BJ Crabtree, Tower Garden Representatives discuss with Glenn and Jo Poshard plans to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the children at the Boys and Girls Club Marion location.

    Carol Bastien and BJ Crabtree, Tower Garden Representatives discuss with Glenn and Jo Poshard plans to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the children at the Boys and Girls Club Marion location.
    Kristin Moore photo

 
BY HOLLY KEE
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 4/7/2021, 6:37 PM

MARION -- A vacant church is well on the way to becoming the home for the Marion Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois.

According to BGCSI Chief Executive Officer Tina Carpenter, Marion Mayor Mike Absher reached out to her organization about expanding its services to Marion.

"He saw our program and knew that we could fill a need here in Marion and Williamson County," said Carpenter earlier this month as she surveyed work being done to renovate the former Baptist church across from Pepsi MidAmerica in Marion.

A small group of area leaders gathered at the site on Tuesday to learn about the new facility in Marion.

Carpenter said the goal of the BGCSI is simple -- to help children.

According to data compiled by BGCSI, about 20 percent of Williamson County youth under the age of 18 live in poverty. Over a third of households with children are single-parent households.

The rate of child abuse and neglect in Williamson County is 21.6 percent, substantially higher than the state average of 9.7.

There is also a widening educational gap between black and white students. Chronic absenteeism is also a huge problem affecting nearly a third of the school population in Marion and Johnston City schools.

Carpenter says the BGCSI can help with those problems.

"Our mission is simple," said Carpenter. "We want to make it possible for all young people to reach their potential."

The BGCSI does this by concentrating on academic success, the arts, and healthy lifestyles.

All of this comes at a price and Carpenter has set the goal at $400,000.

"Right now, we are at about 68 percent of that," said Carpenter.

Along with donations, the new facility will also offer naming rights to the various areas.

To learn more about the new facility, its programs, and opportunities for involvement, follow our series of reports on the BGCSI in the Marion Republican.