On Friday, the St. Cloud community came together with a common goal, to establish a club that will inspire the youth in the community to find their purpose in life and to achieve beyond their expectations. That club is the Boys and Girls Club, and with the community’s help, it will become a reality.

The Boys and Girls Club’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The nearest club for many years has been the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, located on Dyer Boulevard in Kissimmee, that is until now with the St. Cloud community working to establish its own club.

Campaign leader and owner of Land Title Professionals, Rayelynne Ketchum, reached out to school board member for District 5 Robert Bass to share her vision for establishing a Boys and Girls Club in St. Cloud and to ask if he would help her with the project.

She didn’t have to ask twice,” Robert Bass said. “The Boys and Girls Club brand speaks for itself. They offer support and mentorship for youth to help build responsible adults, and we definitely need that in today’s world.

After reaching out to the Boys and Girls Club organization they began to plan the project, “from rock bottom” as Bass said during the presentation.

Boys and Girls Club St. Cloud
Boys and Girls Club St. Cloud
Boys and Girls Club St. Cloud
Boys and Girls Club St. Cloud
Boys and Girls Club St. Cloud

After looking for a suitable facility to kick off the project, they located a 2500 sq ft school district building on the corner of Virginia Avenue and 10th Street across from Cannery Park in St. Cloud. After receiving a “go ahead” from the Boys and Girls Club organization the path head began.

Gary Ketchum, a leader in the St. Cloud community as well as a sales associate with Kisselback Ford, encouraged those in attendance, “I want everybody to take a look around this room. Look at the people sitting at your table, look at the people at the next table, and look at the folks across the room. Nobody is here today by accident. The Lord has placed it on somebody’s heart to invite each individual that’s sitting here today. So, He has a job for us to do, and we can do it.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida President Gary Cain and a member of a club in his childhood spoke at Friday’s breakfast gathering about how the clubs are supported, “it’s mostly through philanthropy – it’s mostly through goodness and some grants. It really is about the future. We’re not here to talk about the past. We’re not here to talk about anything other than – don’t our children everywhere deserve an opportunity to get love, to get the guidance, to be safe, to get help with their academics, to believe in themselves, to believe in goodness? If you have an opportunity to love a child that’s not yours, please do so.”

Campaign leader Rayelynne Ketchum took the podium and shared what the project needs to move forward, “It is so exciting that we have the opportunity to give to this, to help kids. We could have had some kind of “club” on our own, but the Boys and Girls Clubs, they’ve done it, they’ve been there, and they have a heart for children.”

According to Ketchum, the Boys and Girls Clubs requires three years of operating expenses at approximately $200,000 per year, so to open the St. Cloud Boys and Girls Club in St. Cloud they need $600,000. Prior to Friday’s meeting around $175,000 has been raised, certainly, a great sign that the community is behind the project already.

“We know that the kids are our future,” Rayelynne Ketchum went on to share, “ they need us, and they need a safe place. As human beings, we want to be loved and accepted.”

The Boys and Girls Club in St. Cloud needs the community’s help, and their first goal is to get the door open. If you’re interested in making a donation, no matter the size,  just go to  https://bit.ly/3IMNtK2. 

According to campaign leader Robert Bass, if they receive the financial backing necessary to open the club, they will likely do so in the Spring.