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Friends of Jaycees celebrate 60th anniversary of BGHNC cottage

Lake Waccamaw, NC - “I’ve been in the foster system for a long time. I wanted to thank you for investing in us when you barely know us.”

These words were shared by a resident of the Jaycee Cottage on the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina Lake Waccamaw campus during a 60th anniversary celebration of the building of the cottage. In attendance for the celebration were the Jaycee Friends.

“I want to thank you for all that you’ve done,” said BGHNC President/CEO Ricky Creech to those assembled for the celebration. “You’ve got such a rich history with BGHNC and the children served. We’re investing in their lives.”

Jerry Wall, who coordinated the celebration, brought the significance of the cottage into focus.

“Let’s think back when we were in Jaycees what would we have done if our state organization proposed to each of our local chapters that we’re going to build a cottage down in Lake Waccamaw, what would you have thought?” Wall said. “Somehow, someway, Jaycees all across North Carolina got together and raised enough money. How they did it, and how much they raised, I don’t know. But I do know that there’s a Jaycee Cottage sitting over here. And we all know what has been accomplished here over the last 60 years.”

Former BGHNC Presidents Bill Thompson and Gary Faircloth shared some of their memories on the impact of Jaycee Cottage for BGHNC.

“The reason I had a particular connection with Jaycees is I was hired to put together a Boys Choir and they would sing for different occasions,” Thompson recalled. “One of the first occasions that we sang for was a State Jaycee Convention. I remember how well received those boys were and how pleased they were to hear applause. They had done something that was uniquely theirs. They had accomplished something and the Jaycees recognized them for it. So that became a good signal and one of the things I remembered from the boys that were in Jaycees Cottage and the ones that were in the choir that went with us to the Jaycee Conventions, when they left here some of them became Jaycees because that’s what they thought they should do. If they were going to be a member of their community they needed to be a Jaycee. So a lot of new Jaycees were generated right here on this campus.”

Faircloth was one of those Jaycee Cottage boys, who performed in the choir and became a Jaycee and even a JCI Senator.

“Living in the Jaycee Cottage and being in that choir, I’m going to talk about impact just a little bit,” Faircloth shared. “When I came here, through that choir I saw the ocean for the first time. I saw the mountains for the first time. I put on a suit of clothes for the first time. And I presented myself in front of a group of people for the first time. I even spent the first night ever in a hotel. Those were all real experiences that were made possible through the choir. That was impact.

“The Jaycee Cottage being there for me as a young person coming into this home made a difference in my life and it made an impact,” Faircloth continued. “Those stories go on and on. That’s the impact of the North Carolina Jaycees. What you have done has been incredible. As Jaycees, as Jaycee Friends, you truly are sculptors of the finest form of art – that is the art of helping to form human lives. Thank you for 60 years of impact. Thank you for impacting children in such a wonderful way.”

While celebrating the history of the cottage, attention was paid to what the Jaycee Friends are doing to help support the youth of BGHNC now, including funding a new floor for the cottage, renovating all the bathrooms and bedrooms in the cottage, donating a cottage van in October of 2020 and creating a $200,000 endowment fund in 2021 to support cottage maintenance.

“You invested in the future through that van,” Creech said. “That’s the best van we have on campus. And over the years you invested in a safe environment. I want to also say thank you for this endowment. You have invested in that cottage and in the lives of those kids for years to come.

“You love these kids,” he continued. “It’s for the kids. And it enables me to put my focus not on the mechanics, not on the details and having to worry about the cottage and about the environment of care. I can put my focus on telling the story, but more importantly, investing in their lives for the better. You see all the neat little things that we’re building in because typically those are neglected things in the life of a kid as far as recreation with a purpose, pet therapy with a purpose, and having a clinician that is with them at all times. That is the model that we’re seeking to implement and that is going to set us apart. This will help meet the kid where they are to help get them to a point where they’re ready quicker to go out for adoption or foster care or in some cases we’re reuniting them with family because we’re having family therapy now.”

Wall credited the 179 individuals who contributed to the 2021 endowment project for demonstrating their commitment to the future.

“When I was State President back in ’85 – ’86, it never dawned on me what the Jaycee Cottage was going to be 30 years from then,” he admitted. “We didn’t talk about it. We didn’t act on it. We had so many other things to do. It was time for somebody somewhere along the line to say we need long term support for this cottage. That’s our project now. We want to take care of this cottage to make sure that the next 60 years has the same kind of impact that this cottage has had for the past 60 years for all the children that have come through it.”

BGHNC Chief Mission Officer Ray Cockrell expressed his gratitude to those who attended the event and those who have supported the projects over the recent years.

“I feel the passion in this room,” Cockrell said. “I wish all of you could be here every day with these young ladies to be the benefactor of the leadership that’s up here at the front of this room. It’s truly the passion that drives it. It’s truly amazing what these people have done.”

About Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina

Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, Inc., has been helping children since 1954. Since then, more than 7,500 children have benefitted from the services of the not-for-profit, 501(c)3 agency. Its mission is to provide a comprehensive array of services for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunction. BGHNC offers adoption, family and therapeutic foster care, Success Coach services to prevent children from coming into foster care, and free children’s therapy, as well as residential care on the campus at Lake Waccamaw. The campus features a SACS-accredited school with a middle and high school curriculum, vocational education, recreation facilities, farm, chapel and cottage life. As many as 320 children are cared for through the residential, community-based services, and school program provided by BGHNC at any given time. BGHNC operates its program, services and activities in compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws. BGHNC is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation.

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