BOYS & GIRLS CLUB | CEO Burkleo says more diverse community representation needed if clubs are to be a reality
DENHAM SPRINGS – Pat Burkleo was polite but pointed.
“Who is missing at the table,” asked the CEO/president of the Greater Baton Rouge Boys & Girls Club to the group of Denham Springs residents seated around the table.
“You need diversity,” he said at the meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18, seeking to follow through on the Denham Strong project of starting a Boys & Girls Club in Denham Springs.
“I see the same age,” Burkleo said, “and the tendency is to women.”
There were two men (excluding Burkleo) and no minorities at the meeting among the city residents who represented the banking industry, engineering industry, business publications, Antique District merchants – and the state Legislature.
The majority? Women.
“The people missing from the conversation, we need to invite them,” Burkleo said.
Whether the Boys & Girls Club project ultimately becomes reality will rest with Burkleo and his board of governors. Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the national organization, has decided not to expand to new cities, he said.
“A new club has to come under the auspices of a city where there is a Boys & Girls Club, so this would be a subsidy of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge,” Burkelo said.
“You have identified a need,” he said. “You have to pull dedicated people onto the steering committee to develop a plan to get a club opening.”
Burkleo included business professions in his observation.
“At the next meeting, invite other people,” said Burkleo, who will at the meeting on March 8 at City Hall. “You need insurance people, antique (store) owners. Entrepreneurial people.”
The Boys & Girls Club was one of the projects developed by Denham Strong to help in the long-term recovery of the city.