The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 10th

Boys and Girls Club of Eastern Piedmont holds event to raise funds for new branches

Local residents and community organizers spent Saturday night dancing for their very own branch of the Boys and Girls Club.

The Boys and Girls Club of Eastern Piedmont, which aims to expand throughout Orange and Western Chatham counties, held a fundraising event called Dancing with the Stars of Carolina at the Carolina Inn.

To help support the Boys and Girls Club of Eastern Piedmont, which aims to open branches in Orange and Western Chatham Counties, monetarily or by volunteering contact Sarah Marion at 919-663-6159.

The club, which would offer after-school and summer enrichment activities to area children, has proposed a plan to renovate and add to the Pines Community Center on Johnson Street to make room for a new Chapel Hill branch.

But according to the club’s website, organizers must have raised $250,000 — the club’s first year of operating costs — before it can open its doors.

Community leaders, including Chapel Hill police chief Chris Blue and UNC women’s basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell, came to the fundraiser to help achieve that goal.

“I just wanted to bring the community together and support the cause of the opening of the Boys and Girls Club,” said Marla Benton, co-chairwoman and coordinator of the event.

The venue was filled to capacity, she added.

Though the Chapel Hill Planning Department has not received any formal plans for the Pine Knolls project, Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell said the project is on track.

“They are already included in the town budget, and I understand they are doing their own fundraising,” she said.

Besides fundraising, the group is also holding public information meetings at the community center, including one Tuesday.

“We go to the meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page,” said Sarah Marion, the chief professional officer for Boys and Girls Club of Eastern Piedmont.

The Boys and Girls Club of America was founded in 1860 to give underprivileged youth enrichment opportunities and promote character development.

It provides services to children ages 6 to 18, including lessons on decision-making, bullying and gang prevention, and health and nutrition, Marion said.

Marion said she is excited to see the program expand to Chapel Hill, because its counselors build relationships with youth and serve as role models.

“When you see that, it makes your heart just leap,” she said.

Although a moratorium on certain developments in the Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods was passed by the town council in June to slow the effects of gentrification, council member Penny Rich said it won’t delay construction for the new branch.

“When we put in the moratorium on building in the Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods, we made sure that (the Pines Community Center) would be able to build,” Rich said.Contact the City Editor


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