By Chelene Nightingale
Reporter, Barren Co. Progress
It may have been chilly outside, but the climate was warm on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 28, on Columbia Avenue in Glasgow. A gathering of children, local dignitaries, parents, and club volunteers assembled at the old New Farmers Bank building at 701 Columbia Avenue. Although a speaker podium and chairs were sat up outside the building, everyone mingled inside to stay warm until Joe and Kelly Craft arrived.
After the Crafts arrived, Mallie Boston, the Glasgow-Barren County Boys & Girls Club CEO, went outside to the mic to welcome all the guests, “Great to see the amount of people here today invested in our children.” All the children joined the CEO outside and sat next to the podium. Boston continued, “It wouldn’t be possible without Joe and Kelly.”
Last November, the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) announced on their Facebook page that they needed to seek another venue to host their 16th Annual Spirit of Giving event. Local attorney and Kelly Craft’s sister, Micah Guilfoil Payne, replied to a question on the post, “…for several months, the BGC has been operating in good faith under what we thought was an agreed upon lease-the Club has been complying with the new lease provisions (i.e. new rent amount, new space restrictions, notifications, new allowed dates, etc.) and thus also assumed the date we had already provided for the Christmas event was set. We had provided such date to the Housing Authority, our landlord, weeks ago. However, we were notified today that regardless of our reliance and observance of such, that we are not, in fact, authorized to use the HERO Center on that date as we had planned. Therefore, we are having to relocate the Christmas event at this late date.”
Last year, Boston contacted the Crafts and submitted an application to the Craft Foundation for a grant. In response, the Crafts awarded BCG with $2 million in grant funds.
Boston shared, “I had been looking at this place as a possible permanent location. With the Crafts’ grant, we were able to purchase the building.” The club currently leases space at the Housing Authority HERO Center on Cheatham Street; however, the lease ends in September of this year. Although the newly acquired facility needs renovation, Boston is confident the work will be complete by the end of the summer and they can host their 17th Annual Spirit of Giving event in their own building.
Kelly Craft, who grew up in Glasgow told the crowd, “My first job was at this bank answering phones, so it’s come full circle.”
Since her job at the bank’s switchboard, she served as an ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration. She is currently a republican gubernatorial candidate but made it clear to the Barren County Progress that the gathering was not a campaign event. “The focus today is the children.”
Kelly Craft told the attendees sitting outside, “We hear from parents and grandparents concerned about their children’s future, their safety. They want their children and grandchildren to reach their full potential.” She continued by introducing three children who each had dreams of becoming a heart surgeon, a law enforcement officer, and a graphic designer. “We want to give each of these children the same opportunities so they can achieve their same dreams.” Kelly Craft said their giving was to send a message to the children, “Barren County is a better place because you are in it.”
After his wife spoke, Joe Craft briefly addressed supporters. He lovingly enthused that he enjoyed helping his wife’s home community and was happy to visit Barren County. “Kelly and I like to help those who want to help themselves. We enjoy seeing their hearts, their desires, and their passions. It’s an honor for us to help this community.”
Boston emotionally spoke to a very appreciative audience, “…now there is no more wait list for kids!” Although the CEO is very appreciative of the HERO Center, the space was limited to the number of children due to building safety guidelines. The new building, which is over 20,000 square feet, can accommodate a larger number. She concluded, “God put us on the right path with this project.”
A couple of days after the event, the BGC posted the following statement on their Facebook page: “A huge thank you to Mike Jones and Jared Whitworth with K&M Services for being the first to contribute to the new Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County Craft Innovation Campus with their donation of $25,000. We are tremendously grateful for the continued outpouring of support. The direction of youth services is headed in an amazing direction right here in Barren County!”
During the event, Boston explained plans for the new Craft Innovation Campus including a recording studio, a teen center, workforce development, food services, arts, technology, and community events.
Donations to the Boys & Girls Club is tax deductible. Contact the club to donate or volunteer by calling (270) 629-3871 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.