Donation will aid Boys and Girls Club gym project

Published 1:45 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

An anonymous donor has come forward with a generous gift to help the Cawood Ledford Boys & Girls Club with its planned gymnasium project, which is projected to cost between $300,000 and $350,000.

The project will include a basketball court/cafeteria space that can be divided into three separate program areas when needed, locker rooms and a commercial kitchen that will double as a concession stand during basketball games.

“The donor and his wife have been loyal supporters of the club for years,” said Kateena Haynes, Club CEO. “Although he is not from the area, she is, and it is obvious that Harlan County holds a special place in her heart. Her love of the area is so abundant that her husband has decided to make this incredible donation to ensure that children here have a place to run and play and be safe.”

“The project was moving very slowly, and we needed some momentum. This donor had expressed that he wanted to help when construction began, so I reached out to him and told him we were ready to move forward. He requested a few days to talk it over with his wife. When I heard from him several days later, he said they were willing to give $200,000. I nearly fell out of my chair. I started crying and just repeatedly saying ‘thank you.’ It was absolutely overwhelming.”

Haynes said the donor wants to generate interest among other donors and build community excitement, so he is offering the money as a matching contribution. For every dollar raised, he will donate two dollars — up to a total of $200,000. His donation, along with the matching funds, should be enough to complete the project.

“He really wants to get the community involved and excited about the work we are doing. He asked if I thought we could raise $100,000 on our own and I told him I am confident that we can. We have a wonderful community that has always rallied around us, and I know they will again,” Haynes said.

A contract has been drawn up and the money is already waiting in an escrow account.

“He had hoped we would have the money raised by the end of the year because he wants to get this money to us as soon as possible. I think he and his wife are as excited about this project as we are,” she said.

Haynes states that their goal is to have the $100,000 raised by June 30, 2019, but that the donor’s money will be released as soon as the money is raised. “If we raise $100,000 by Dec. 31, then we will have a total of $300,000 on Dec. 31.”

The addition of a gymnasium will bring about major changes to the Cawood Ledford Boys & Girls Club, said area director Kendra Calhoun.

“We can’t wait for our gym,” said Calhoun. “Some days, we have nearly a hundred children in this facility. We feed all of them using one stove and rotating them in and out of the art room. It takes the entire afternoon. The addition of a commercial kitchen and a mass seating area will make a huge difference in the way we program.”

Calhoun also said the gym will double the capacity of the club.

“We are at the point where we cannot handle many more kids in our facility. We simply do not have the space. It’s OK when the weather is nice, and we can take a group outside, but when it’s raining and all the kids are inside, it is very crowded,” she said. “The gym will allow us to serve twice as many kids every day. We also plan to have teen-only hours once the project is complete. The gym opens up a world of possibilities for us.”

Haynes said the club expects to break ground early 2019. For more information on how to donate to the club’s building campaign, contact Haynes at 606-573-0960 or