Ralph Capps ought to know, after 40-plus years as president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County, just how valuable the organization has been, is and will continue to be for the children of Wake County who need somewhere to go, need guidance with things like homework, need a meal, need support from adults.
So Capps smiles when he notes this is the 50th anniversary of the clubs being established in Wake County, first as a Boys Club, later adding a Girls Club and now with seven locations including a teen center. The clubs feed the body and soul and provide exercise opportunities and just, well, company for youngsters. Now the clubs serve 5,000 school-age kids and have served many thousands of others through the years.
Some of those kids have been spectacular success stories, but so many others have simply improved their lives and grown to happiness with families of their own. The Boys & Girls Clubs are a wholesome, healthy influence on kids of all backgrounds. Capps is most proud that in Wake County, the Boys Club and then the Boys & Girls Clubs never were segregated. All kids were welcomed from the beginning.
Kids join by word of mouth, and those who can pay, pay $7.50 for a membership. Young people, and others of all age groups, work in the clubs and start first, when kids get there during the school year, with homework. They then can play games, talk, read or play sports including basketball. The clubs began with the support of other civic clubs; now they get funding from private donors and from public sources as well.
For all, it is a profound investment in the most precious thing a community has: its next generation.