At its annual board installation and awards luncheon Oct. 18, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama tapped Dr. Lynda Carroll as the organization’s next chairman. She succeeds Michael Thompson. Pictured above with Judge George Hardesty, Carroll has served on the board for 12 years, previously as vice president of training and operations. She has 44 years’ experience in public education in New York, Florida and Mobile, most recently serving as assistant superintendent of the Mobile County Public School System until her retirement earlier this year.

“I’ve always been a child advocate,” Carroll said. “We offer all kinds of services after school — there is a lot of character-building, reading and career development. The Boys & Girls Clubs also give students an opportunity to do some recreational activities and get supervised time with their homework.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama operates seven year-round clubs in Mobile County and Camp Chandler-Tonsmeire, a wooded 150-acre campsite with a swimming pool, three pavilions and a lake. Programs are open to all youth, ages 6-18, for $30 per school year.

Carroll offered the acronym “S.A.F.E.” when asked about her priorities for the organization.

“The ‘S’ is for ‘safety,’ providing a safe space for students to learn and play after school. The ‘A’ is for ‘advocacy,’ trying to build new partnerships. The ‘F’ is for ‘fundraising,’ we always need more money because turning kids away from the services is the hardest thing we do. ‘E’ is for ‘effective programming,’ reading, character and career development,” she explained. “The biggest problem we have is we don’t have enough money to provide the services we need because we have a waiting list for our clubs and our summer camp.”

CEO Tim Wills said the organization has been a part of Mobile County for 61 years and the luncheon is an opportunity to recognize partnering companies and area organizations that have contributed to its success over the past year.

“We have big plans,” Wills said. “Our goal is to serve more young people. There are thousands of students that don’t have place to go after school. The other thing is our reading program — we’re really big about pushing and making sure every single young person who walks in our door walks out proficient in reading.”

Wills noted that in April 2019, Boys & Girls Clubs is organizing the inaugural Gulf Coast Children’s Book Festival at The Grounds. It will feature book sales, illustrators, authors, readings and games.

For more information about donating, volunteering or participating in the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, visit bgcsouthal.org or call 251-432-1235.