new pierson teen club sneak peak
PHOTO COURTESY BOYS & GIRLS CLUB A peek inside the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia/Flagler Counties' new teen center in Pierson.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties hosted the grand opening of their new T. DeWitt Taylor/Pierson Teen Center on Aug. 31. The ribbon-cutting ceremony at T. DeWitt Taylor Middle-High School marked the beginning of a new era of opportunity for teenagers in the area.

According to Lisa Ryals, the COO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties, the Pierson area lacked places for teenagers to call their own. She compared the landscape to a memory of 20 years ago with people hanging out on the side of the road. She described the town as a “pocket of poverty that no one really wants to talk about.”

Despite this, the students and faculty of the school have managed to cultivate a culture of community. Ryals told The Beacon that Pierson welcomed the Boys & Girls Club with open arms.

“We wanted a Boys & Girls Club there for many years,” Ryals said. “We just never had the opportunity.” 

Now, with the right partnerships and community connections, Ryals said, the dream of having a safe place for teenagers to gather has become a reality a decade after conception. 

She cited the support of the school principal and the Volusia County schools superintendent as part of the equation that made establishing the club possible.

FIRST TWO — The first two members of the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia/Flagler Counties’ T. DeWitt Taylor/Pierson Teen Club join Volusia County School Board Member Ruben Colón, Pierson Town Council Member Sergia Cardenas, and event planner and community advocate Joe Hearn to celebrate the club’s opening. Colón was selected to serve as the new club’s chairman, and Hearn as its president.

The new club will offer a host of programs for which the Boys & Girls Clubs of America are already nationally known, including Keystone and Torch Club. Keystone Clubs aim to foster leadership development in people ages 14 to 18, focusing on three main areas: academic success, career preparation, and community service. Torch Clubs are geared at a younger crowd of ages 11 to 13, focusing on four areas: education, health and fitness, social recreation, and service to club and community.

This is the first all-teens center that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties has opened. 

“We’re really looking to make sure that these young people know there’s more outside of those four walls and it’s what they make of it,” Ryals explained. “That’s the whole basis behind this teen center. This Boys & Girls Club is where dreams have no limits.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties wants to “make a footprint” in Pierson. 

Ryals told The Beacon, “We’re here to help them and give them the tools to show them how to put in work so that they can reach their goals and aspire to do great things.”


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