Youth Club flourishing through local donors

Brandon and Christa Hudspeth, of Benton, visit Hud’s Hangar for the first time at the new Boys & Girls Clubs of Saline County facility at Riverside Park. The Hudspeths donated funds to the club for one of two gaming areas for members. The area includes pool tables and other games for children to enjoy. JOSH BRIGGS/The Saline Courier
Josh Briggs
Managing Editor

Jasen Kelly, director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Saline County, recently described the Benton branch as a place to call home for children.

Speaking before a crowd during the grand opening for the new Riverside Park location, Kelly said that before children burst through the door each day, the club is simply a building.

“But when they walk through that door at 3 p.m., this becomes home,” he added.

The new facility will serve more than 600 of Saline County’s youth. Much larger than the current location, the new 55,000-square-foot facility comes complete with three basketball courts, double gaming areas for different age groups, a full kitchen, an array of education rooms, such as the Hamm Family Performing Arts Academy, and much more.

But none of the before mentioned amenities would have been made possible without the support of local donors.

Gina Simpson, owner of Gina’s Catering in Bryant, said that she has witnessed firsthand what the club can do for a child’s life and wanted to become a part of the atmosphere.

“We have witnessed the children feeling loved, watched students flourish due to the encouragement of the staff, and realizing what the kids can become with the help of the ‘village,’” Simpson said.
Simpson donated funds for a full-service kitchen to the new club that will help provide meals to club members while at the club and away.

She added that she is excited to see what the club has to offer and how the children adapt to the new facility.

“Watching the kids being able to have a larger place to be, increased programs that will have a lifelong impact on them and seeing how many more students will be able to attend is what I’m most looking forward to,” Simpson said.

Built on the grounds of Watts Field, the former Saline County Airport, club architects and officials felt it was appropriate to keep with the flying theme. Since that determination, three planes have been placed in the club, along with both play areas donning runway-like designs.

At the main entrance, guests can find Hud’s Hangar.

This area is complete with pool tables and other fun-filled activities for children, thanks to donations from Brandon and Christa Hudspeth.

“By investing in the Boys & Girls Club we are investing in our future,” the Hudspeths said. The club opens doors and opportunities for most of these kids that they would otherwise never have.”

See the full article in today's issue of The Saline Courier.