He was 15 years old when his parents divorced. He lived with his mother and although he loved his father, the relationship was rocky. That’s when Bart McFadden turned to the Boys and Girls Club.
“I was a good kid, but there was a gap in my life then. I spent almost every hour not in school or on the ball field at the Boys and Girls Club,” said McFadden, who grew up in Johnson City, Tenn.
Bart McFadden has been named the director of Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia, overseeing club units in LaGrange, Hogansville and Pike County. He follows Dexter Davis, the former club director who resigned in November.
“When my parents divorced, my mother was making $10,000 a year with three boys to support. I went to the Boys and Girls Club and asked if there was anything I could do to make some money. The director let me cut grass, pick up trash, work in the gym. Board members and volunteers poured into me and they left a mark,” he said.
Later, McFadden would intern with the national Boys and Girls Club, before making it his career. His first assignment was opening a school-based club in Spartanburg, S.C., then he moved to Orlando, Fla. where he worked six years.
“Orlando was a tough place,” McFadden admitted. “We had seven kids murdered in the area in 18 months.”
However, with a strong volunteer base, the Orlando club attracted the attention of the Walt Disney company.
“We grew so much that Disney gave us a $1 million gift for a new building,” he said.
That’s the kind of club — and volunteer base — that McFadden wants to build in West Georgia.
“Boys and Girls Club is one of the biggest assets a community can have. We can help improve the graduation rate, we can help develop healthy lifestyles,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to get a kid off the rails. We want to fill that gap with good people and good programs. I want to see us build a team around every kid with the schools, parents and Boys and Girls Club.”
Some of the first issues McFadden wants to address are growing the club units and also developing partnerships with businesses and schools.
“We need to serve more kids,” he said. Currently, there are about 100 students who attend the Hogansville club at Hogansville Elementary School; about 60 to 70 children in the LaGrange unit; and about 30 children at the Pike County unit.
In order to serve more children, more volunteers are needed.
“We need volunteers to help with specialized programming like dance and art,” he said.
The club is also going to have to grow its financial base.
“Because of a lack of funding, we can’t provide the level of programming we want to provide. We’re going to be a transparent organization, and we need financial support,” he said.
After working in Orlando, McFadden and his wife — whom he met through Boys and Girls Club — moved to Las Vegas. They were looking for a place closer to their homes — Tennessee and Florida — where they could settle in and raise a family.
“LaGrange was the only place I applied to. I like it here. It’s a good place to raise a family and we’re just an hour from Turner Field,” he said. “In three weeks I’ve had more relationship building opportunities than I did in 12 months in Vegas.”
For information about Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia or to volunteer at one of the clubs, contact Bart McFadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 706-812-9698.