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JTC now under Boys & Girls Club of Kershaw County

Receives $500 gift for new carpeting

Posted: August 23, 2018 4:49 p.m.
Updated: August 24, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

VM Ministries’ Valerie Burris, of Elgin (center), presents a $500 check to Jackson Teen Center Executive Director Brian Mayes (right) and his wife, Roberta, on Tuesday. Mayes said the newly formed Boys & Girls Club of Kershaw County will use it for new carpeting inside the teen center. Burris, a preacher and motivational speaker who moved to Elgin two years ago, said she wanted to “give back to children” in the hopes they will “pay it forward.”

On the same day it received a $500 gift from an Elgin minister, the Jackson Teen Center (JTC) announced it is now officially operating under the auspices of the Boys & Girls Club of Kershaw County (BGCKC). The change actually took place July 1.

“Until now, the center operated under the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands (BGCM),” JTC Executive Director Brian Mayes explained in an email. “In an effort to establish a local presence that is unique to Kershaw County, we are thrilled to take this next step to opening the doors to great futures for Kershaw County youth and teens at the Boys & Girls club.”

Mayes also announced that longtime BGCM Area Director Robin Saviola has been promoted to become BGCKC’s executive director. He said that Saviola’s work with the Boys & Girls Club started in Virginia in 1999 and that her commitment to the organization led her to South Carolina and leadership positions here.

“Robin’s passion for serving youth has shaped her long-term professional goals within the Boys & Girls Club movement and she has truly made an impact on our club here in Kershaw County,” BGCKC Board President Edwin Kohn said in the same email.

According to Mayes, while they reside in northeast Columbia, Saviola and her family have been actively involved not only with the BGCKC, but the Fine Arts Center’s onstage community.

Meanwhile, Valerie Burris, a preacher and motivational speaker who operates VM Ministries out of Elgin, visited the JTC on Tuesday with a $500 donation. Mayes said the BGCKC would use the money to pay for new carpeting at the JTC.

Burris moved to Elgin two years ago after marrying former Camden Police Department detective Damian Burris, who now operates Burris Realty Group in Columbia. She said the West Virginia town where she grew up did not invest in its youth or youth-oriented activities.

“When there’s nothing to do, you get in trouble,” Burris said. “I’ve traveled the country and been blessed in many different ways. When I moved here two years ago, I wanted to figure out how to give back to children, especially teens. I wanted them to be able to pay it forward. So, I thought I’d find an organization that would benefit and appreciate it.”

Burris said she liked the message the JTC and Boys & Girls Club sends: that it’s not just a place, but what “they pour into it,” she said of Mayes and his wife, Roberta, who heads up the county’s Job Readiness Training program out of the center.

“I was intrigued and wanted to be a part of it,” Burris said, explaining that it fits her work as a preacher and motivational speaker in terms of offering hope. “We all have a story, we all have things we’ve gone through -- it’s how you go through them that matters. My 11th Grade English teacher told me, ‘If you believe you can, you can, and if you believe you can’t, then you can’t; either way, you’re right.’”

She said she didn’t earmark her $500 gift for any purpose, but wanted the club to figure out what to do with it. As it turned out, according to Mayes, $500 is exactly the cost of the carpeting the BGCKC needs for the JTC.

After handing over the check, Burris stayed on hand to visit with many of the teens and younger kids playing, working and studying at the center Tuesday afternoon.

“I just want to hang out with them and let them know someone cares about them,” Burris said.

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