HARRIMAN (WATE) - Years of hard work by Roane County community leaders are finally paying off, as the county is nearing the opening of its first-ever Boys & Girls Club.
But before the after-school mentoring program can get underway for local students, organizers say they need a little help from the community.
Roane County leaders have worked for nearly six years to bring a Boys & Girls Club to the area.
They say the need for a positive program to steer students on the right path is great.
"We're desperate. We are desperate for this program. Statistically, in Roane County we have drug issues and we started looking at what can we do to change that," said Charlene Hipsher of the Boys & Girls Club of Roane County.
Now, it's finally happening.
Everything is in place, except for one big part: enough funding to actually get it off the ground.
"If we can pour into the lives of these children, then maybe we can change the next generation," said Hipsher.
Hipsher says they have to raise $150,000 by December. They're kicking off their fundraising campaign this week, with a 5k run to be held Monday morning at Harriman's Riverfront Park.
Hipsher says organizers are confident the community will step up to meet that goal.
"The community is sending great messages that they're ready for this," said Hipsher.
The after-school program could begin as early as winter break if they do.
More than 800 students across Roane County will receive tutoring, drug and alcohol education as well as character and leadership classes.
"We want these kids to know that they need to stay in school and that they can get an education and build the self esteem that will allow them to do that," said Hipsher.
Local parents say a Boys & Girls Club is something Roane County has needed for a long time.
"I think it's a wonderful thing because when my daughter was growing up, they just didn't have that much," said Kathy Morris of Harriman.
Morris hopes the club will help keep kids on the right track.
"I believe it will make a big difference. If they get in it and stick with it, I think it would help the kids a lot and hopefully keep a lot of them out of trouble," said Morris.
The Boys & Girls Club of Roane County already has a location to hold their program. Roane County Schools donated a space at Harriman Middle School.
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