Despite the rainy weather today, a large group of adults and kids turned out for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Boys and Girls Club facility in Pigeon Forge.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains broke ground Dec. 17, 2015 on a new 15,000 square foot building behind the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Double the size of the space where the club currently meets, Mark Ross, chief professional officer for The Boys and Girls Club expects it to increase membership by 40% and allow the organization to serve about 120 kids daily. It will house a gym, recreation room, and an education and technology center.
“We’ve been working to raise funds for the Pigeon Forge Branch for just over 6 months and I am extremely pleased and excited to say that we are very close to our campaign goal,” said Linda Ogle, campaign chair and board president.
More than thirty individuals and businesses have donated to fund the construction, furniture, fixtures and equipment for the facility. Recently, Harpoon Harry’s Crab House donated $100,000 and The Island in Pigeon Forge gave $250,000 toward the project.
Ogle was brought to tears at the ceremony by a surprise donation of $500,000 on behalf of Dixie Stampede and Dollywood that pushed the club beyond its $2 million fundraising goal. Dixie Stampede President Jim Rule and General Manager Jamie Parish joined Craig Ross, president of The Dollywood Company, and Gene Scherrer, Dollywood general manager, in presenting the donation during the ceremony.
“The Boys and Girls Club is an amazing example of an organization which makes a profound impact on the community it serves,” said Rule. “This donation is to benefit a group that provides wonderful services to our hosts’ families and is integral to the quality of life here in Pigeon Forge.”
“Lady Bird Johnson said ‘Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them,’ ” said Ross. “The outstanding commitment of Dixie Stampede and Dollywood shows just how much they believe in the future of Pigeon Forge.”