The History of Boys and Girls Club of Abilene:
Realizing that the number of juvenile offenders was on the rise, Police Chief Warren Dodson of the Abilene Police Officers Association, and a number of prominent citizens decided to do something.
February…Approx. 300 people met at the cafeteria on the Abilene Christian College campus to receive the state charter of the Boys Club of Abilene, Inc.
The original Boys Club started in the Park Building on South 1st. They met on the third floor of this building for about one year. A capital fund raising campaign raised approximately $50,000 to $60,000 enabling them to buy the John Deere Tractor Dealer Building at 817 South 2nd.
The Club, named the Grover Nelson Unit, stayed in that building until the area became an industrial area. Another capital fund raising campaign was begun and an old building used as a church at Camp Barkley was purchased and relocated to 1665 South 15th across the street from Jefferson Junior High (now Jefferson Middle School).
The Club was named W. S. Wagley Unit. Plans were made for a second unit through a Community Block Grant and with the cooperation of the Abilene Independent School District. The facility was located adjacent to Lee Elementary School on North 10th Street and is used by the school during school hours and by the Boys & Girls Club after school hours. This facility was opened in April 1985 and the Grover Nelson name was again used for this clubhouse.
This area had an extremely high juvenile delinquency rate, no services were available and a large number of kids lived in this area. Since the opening of this club, the Abilene Police Department and the Taylor County Juvenile Probation Department have recognized a substantial drop in the delinquency rate. They believe this to be a direct result of our program.
Fannin Boys & Girls Club began operations adjacent to Fannin Elementary and is used by the school during school hours and by the Boys & Girls Club after school hours.
Girls gradually became part of the membership. The name changed to Boys & Girls Club of America and locally to Boys & Girls Club of Abilene, Inc.
Boys Clubs were traditionally recognized as sports centers. In fact, many Boys Clubs were organized to start boxing clubs or started through boxing clubs. Though this was a good program, it was recognized that many of these kids were having problems in school. The Club began to offer homework tutoring help, pats on the back for report card improvement, and encouragement.
March…Wagley Boys & Girls Club moved from S. 15th to the South Park Recreation Center
* January…Highland Church of Christ offered a facility for an after school program. Highland Boys & Girls Club served the Alta Vista and Bowie Elementary Schools and the Jefferson Middle School.
* April…40th Anniversary celebrated at the Nelson Club with an Awards and Birthday Celebration. Ed Massey, the B&GC of America Region Director and a past Executive Director, was the guest speaker.
* May…Wagley Boys & Girls Club name was retired.