As we describe on our Charitable Giving page, SolUnesco is committed to supporting the communities in which we operate. Our Meherrin Solar project is located in Greensville County, on the outskirts of Emporia, Virginia. We have chosen to support the Boys and Girls Club of Emporia, which is currently raising money to re-establish its presence in the County.
Changes in Emporia and Greensville, Virginia
When small family-owned businesses were prevalent in the Emporia/Greensville area of Southside Virginia, it was easy to employ the 15,000 residents. However, with the decline in agricultural in the area, poverty has increased significantly, as has poor health among the residents. Single-parent households are common, contributing to behavior problems and poor academic performance among students in the area.
The median income in Emporia, Virginia is only 40% of the median income for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. More than three-quarters of the 2400 students in Emporia and Greensville County receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year. Although reading proficiency was 63% in 2014, it dropped to 57% in 2016. Similarly, math proficiency was 66% in 2014 and dropped to 60% in 2016.
Re-establishing the Emporia Boys and Girls Club
The Emporia Boys and Girls Club is an organization that helps to improve academic proficiency skills and support at-risk students after school. The Club was open for several years, but was forced to close due to operational and funding problems. “This was a tragedy for the youth of Emporia, who have since had no place to go after school,” commented Bobby Wrenn, who is spearheading the effort to re-establish the Club. “The Club serves children in need—children that would be “latch-key” kids who would be home alone unsupervised and unsupported for hours after school while their parents work. There is a great deal of interest to get this project started.” The structure of the Boys and Girls Club program provides a much-needed healthy and supportive environment where at-risk children can continue their school progress.
To re-open the Emporia Boys and Girls Club, Wrenn is attempting to raise $150,000. He has been successful in securing $90,000 and just needs a little more help to get the project off the ground. The resources that the club is seeking will be used to hire employees, fund facilities and utilities, and run programs. “Marra Dunn and Elise Brown have been instrumental in raising these funds. Elise has been applying for grants and Marra has been leading the fundraising charge. We wouldn’t be this far without them.” The funds provided by SolUnesco are part of this effort. Initially, the Club will reside in a County building.
“The mission of the Boys and Girls Club is closely aligned with our core values as a business,” commented Francis Hodsoll, CEO of SolUnesco. “We support the efforts of these clubs to ‘enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.’ We are excited to be a part of the effort to re-establish this important facility and program in Greensville County, where we are proposing.”
Because of operational changes that have occurred in recent years, new clubs must run under the auspices of a larger club. Wrenn has obtained agreement from an existing club in Oxford, North Carolina to help with re-establishing the Emporia Boys and Girls Club. According to Wrenn, the Executive Director who runs the Oxford Club is highly qualified and professional and willing to manage the operations of the Emporia club.
How the Club Makes an Impact
The programs that have been offered to participants in the past have included developmental activities that are not typically offered in district schools, such as public speaking. The club offers a structured environment and staff to support students in their homework preparation and other studies. Wrenn believes that the Boys and Girls Club results in Emporia youth becoming better overall citizens and having an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Children attending the Emporia Club will receive:
- Assistance with homework completion
- Individual tutoring
- Physical activities and games
- Nutritional foods
- Adult supervision, including by parent volunteers
- Safe environment
- Positive role models to assist in building self-esteem
- Information on career opportunities, including field trips and hands-on activities
Wrenn feels there is an urgent need to re-establish the Boys and Girls Club in the Emporia/Greenville area.
How You Can Help
SolUnesco invites you to join us in supporting the re-opening of the Emporia, Virginia Boys and Girls Club. Please send funds to the following address:
Emporia Boys and Girls Club
c/o Bobby Wrenn
P.O. Box 631
Emporia, VA 23847