The Thomson-McDuffie County community has been fortunate to have a former Florida State Seminole in our midst for the past several years.
Chuck Graham, an FSU basketball player in the early 90s, has been the director of the local Boys and Girls Club since it opened five years ago. A 1994 FSU and 1989 Richmond Academy graduate, Graham recently was promoted to the position of Interim Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Augusta. He will now be in charge of Augusta's main club and it's Dogwood Terrace club as well as the unit here in Thomson.
"I'm going to miss being in Thomson on a daily basis, this town has really grown on me," said Graham. "I hope it will work out that I can still help Coach Thomas with the high school team. I'm proud of the way the community built this club and still want to be as much a part of it as I can."
The Thomson unit of the Boys and Girls Club was the original brainchild of Steve Strouble and other members of the 1997 Class of Leadership McDuffie. What started as a class project has now turned into a beautiful new facility that serves one hundred kids each day. As often depicted on national TV ads, the club is designed to promote the academic, social, and physical well being of young people. In laymen's terms, it keeps kids off the street with positive role models like Chuck Graham and his staff in charge of their activities.
Graham credits many parties with getting the club to where it is now. Commission Chairman Charlie Newton and former county manager Lamar Hamill were among those instrumental in helping obtain grants to go along with the $50,000 given by the national Boys and Girls Club organization.
Many private parties, led by the Knox Foundation, Chris Mohr and the Atlanta Falcons contributed to the start up and operations budget of the club. The local board of directors, chaired by Anne Knox, has constantly been on the look out for available funds from any source to help with the club's ongoing budget needs.
It appears that Thomson's Boys and Girls Club has remained mostly a secret to the McDuffie County community. As stated, the club bursts at the seams with 100 "customers" each day, and more on a waiting list. National Boys and Girls Club guidelines allow only minimal monetary contributions from the children involved. It is meant to be an effort supported by a locale in order to support its' youth with positive activities, in turn preventing the negative ones that we all abhor.
When called upon to assist the club financially, any individual, business, church or civic organization can be assured of making a wise investment. The Thomson-McDuffie County Boys and Girls Club is simply a mission within the confines of our county lines.