"I have always wanted a house full of kids, and God gave me one."

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

The Boys and Girls Club of the Mississippi Delta has chosen a new unit director for the Yazoo City center.

As of July 26, Yazoo City native Judy Ables took on the role and is ready to welcome new club members for the August - December 2018 term.

Ables is a 1982 graduate of Yazoo City High School and formerly worked as a secretary with Mississippi Chemical Corporation, in the office at Jim Newsom Trucking and in quality control at SourceLink in Madison.

Ables heard about the unit director job from Pennie Griffin, the director of operations for the Boys and Girls Club of the Mississippi Delta.  After a meeting with Griffin and discussing what the job would entail, Ables decided to accept the position immediately.

"I prayed for God to use me, and this is where he led me," Ables said. "I left her office and knew this was what I wanted. As God says, 'claim it,' I went to my job and put in my notice. I didn't even know what the pay was."

Ables is no stranger to working as a volunteer and serving others.  As an active member of Bethany United Methodist Church, she is involved with a variety of programs benefiting the community, such as donating food and services to the Manna House and delivering necessary items to residents at the former Oasis Nursing Home such as chapstick, lotion, and socks.

"I have worked with Christmas in April through Mississippi Chemical, now CF Industries," Ables said. "I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of the Mississippi Delta teaching arts and crafts and anything else I could help with, and I also worked with the Boy Scouts as a Cub Mother and a Cub Leader."

Ables is also an active voice against drug addiction, and she often speaks and works with others to tell her story and experience after losing her son Matthew to an overdose on the drug Fentanyl.

As the new unit director for the Boys and Girls Club of Yazoo City, Ables is motivated to create a new sense of belonging for club members, staff, parents, volunteers, and the community.  She also said that she wants the club to be a safe place for the children of Yazoo City to come and have fun while learning.  Ables said that part of that will include new security measures for the Yazoo City location.

"Due to ensuring that the members and staff are safe at the club at all times, the entrance door will be locked," she said. "Please knock on the door or call ahead, and in the afternoon one of our Foster Grandparents will let you in the building."

Some of Ables' goals as the new unit director include increasing membership, attendance, and teen participation at the Yazoo City location. 

"The club offers great programs and leadership in helping young adults graduate from high school and finding a career path," she said. "We want to see the membership in all of the school grades increase during the school year.  We also want the children of Yazoo City to have a safe place to have fun, learn, and make new friends."

Once Ables accepted the role as unit director, she immediately got to work figuring out what the Yazoo City location had as far as assets, and what they would need moving forward.

Ables gave The Yazoo Herald a quick tour of the newly renovated building.  The freshly painted hallways and reorganized classrooms are just one example of the work Ables and other volunteers have already put into the Yazoo City center.

Classrooms are divided by different grade-levels for members, and there are also rooms for arts and crafts, recreation, music, and even a cafeteria where the members can share meals together.

Ables said that she also wants to host an open-house soon inside the Yazoo City location to show potential new members, parents, and volunteers the benefits of joining and supports the local Boys and Girls Club.

Ables has been trained and prepared for her new role by attending Boys and Girls Club workshops.

"I have received one-on-one training from Pennie Griffin and the administrative staff on all aspects of the job, and I participated in a unit director training in Atlanta," she said. "I have been on God's path preparing me my entire life for this job.  I have always wanted a house full of kids, and God gave me one."

Ables said that she has been keeping busy by completing administrative tasks and visiting the community in the morning, and working with the club members and the staff in the afternoon.

Ables said that they currently have around 15 members enrolled for the August - December 2018 term, and they are still accepting new members between the ages of 6 - 18 for the after-school programs.

The Boys and Girls Club offers programs in five core areas: Education and Career, Sports and Fitness, Health and Life Skills, Character and Leadership, and the Arts.  Ables added that other programs being offered include STEM, workforce development, homework assistance, computer skills, healthy living, abstinence, bullying, sports activities, art, music, team building, goal setting, and fun.

"The club will be offering dinner to the members this school year," Ables said. "We will know soon when the meals will begin.  It will be served from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m."

Ables said that some of the activities they have planned for this fall include participating in the Yazoo County Fair, the Yazoo City Christmas Parade, making quilts for hospice patients, and working with the Junior Auxiliary of Yazoo City.

"We are striving to accomplish what is stated in our mission and vision statements," Ables said. "Our mission statement is ‘to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.’  Our vision statement is ‘changing the dynamics of the Mississippi Delta by developing healthy, educated, and employable citizens.’  This can be accomplished by the dedicated club staff, parents, volunteers, and the community of Yazoo City by working together as a team."

Ables said that she is very thankful for the administrative and support staff at the Boys and Girls Club of Yazoo City, including Lisa Allen, program coordinator; Latonya Parks, program pide; Coach Darren Robinson, program aide; and Foster Grandparents Roxie Dillard and Alberta Simmons.

The Boys and Girls Club of Yazoo City is currently enrolling new members for the August - December 2018 term.  The activity fee is $25  per child ages 6 - 18, and the hours of operation are from 3 -7 p.m. 

For more information on enrollment, or to donate or volunteer at the local club, call 746-2322, or visit the Yazoo City location at 516 East Canal Street. 

"The club would like to thank everyone who donated their time and effort to clean and reorganize the club for the new school year." Ables said. "All of the help is much appreciated."