The Coahoma County Youth Outreach program, under the Board of Supervisors, was first implemented in 2012 and at the Expo Center since 2014.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Mississippi Delta opened up one of its clubs at the Expo Center in partnership with CCYO in April 2016. Nearly three years later, there is debate as to what roles and responsibilities the Boys & Girls Club and CCYO should have in the partnership.
Members of both entities discussed those very issues at the CCYO board meeting Thursday, Dec. 13. The board did not have a quorum, so no action could be taken during the meeting.
David Dallas, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Mississippi Delta, said the Expo Center was closed on some days and he was not told about it.
“We’ve got to have a Boys & Girls Club that is operating every day,” Dallas said. “That’s got to happen.”
Dallas said every child with CCYO that comes in the building should also be a registered Boys & Girls Club member.
“They do not have to do every activity that we have, but they all need to be registered as Boys and Girls Club members,” he said, adding they depend on numbers for support from organizations such as the Walton Foundation and the state Boys & Girls Club.
CCYO board member Al Jones said until the Board of Supervisors says the outreach program does not have to produce income, the Expo Center must be rented, which could cause it to close some days.
“Do you have to pay to be a member of the Boys & Girls Club?” Jones asked.
Dallas said, right now, all members must pay, but arrangements are made for children who cannot afford to get in.
Jones said part of CCYO’s statement is to have enrichment as part of the program.
Dallas said he would also like to see the Boys & Girls Club focus on enrichment and recreation programs.
“You all came here, I guess, two years ago,” said CCYO enrichment director Kendrick Travis. “The process when these kids come in, no one stops them from going back there.
“Everyone who comes in, that’s what we sell them on, both programs.”
Travis said, at one time, there was a joint application for both programs.
Dallas said it would be simpler to have it that way now.
“To me, it feels like a takeover,” Travis said. “It’s a takeover. Just call it what it is.”
“We brought you here to do one thing. You kind of went behind the door and are trying to take over the thing we have established. I’m here every day and I see everything.”
Travis said 400 children come to the CCYO program and it is like pulling teeth to get them to go to the Boys & Girls Club.
“Let’s not lose sight of our kids,” said Jones, adding the goal is to develop children.
“We are here,” Dallas replied. “We would like to stay here. We think it’s a great facility.”
Dallas said county representatives have asked the Boys & Girls Club members to do more, including athletic activities.
“That’s a takeover,” said Travis once again.
Jones said CCYO and the Boys & Girls Club should work together.
“We’re funded for a year,” Jones said. “Can’t nothing happen to us for a whole year.”
The Board of Supervisors’ fiscal year begins in October and funds were allocated to CCYO from the budget.
“We want to get them off the streets,” Jones said. “That’s our only concern.”
Dallas said the Boys & Girls Club could provide activities focused on arts and crafts, living a healthy lifestyle, education and leadership.
“I want Kendrick to stay with us and do the recreation, if we were to officially take over, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Dallas said.
After Jones asked Tara Bell, unit director at Coahoma County Youth Outreach center, if she has a problem working with Travis, she replied, “I could work with anybody.”
Travis replied, “If you stop passing the buck and get your numbers, get them. That’s all it is.”
Travis said the CCYO has a daily sign-in sheet to keep records of what children come into the Expo Center.
Dallas said Travis and Bell should meet once a week for at least an hour.
Travis said most of the days the Boys & Girls Club is off, the CCYO is at the Expo Center.
He added for the past two years, it has been the same conversation about numbers.
“There was no reason you all shouldn’t have your numbers,” Travis said. “The sign-in sheet is right there every day.”
While there were some differences, both sides showed optimism toward the end of the discussion.
“We’re going to make this thing work,” Jones said.
“As long as they’re talking, it’s a big step,” he said.