Making a difference in the lives of children

In about six months the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club will be able to call a 30,000-square-foot building home. Joining it on New Burton Road will be the 35,000-square-foot Kent County Recreation Center. (Delaware State News photos/Gary Emeigh)

In about six months the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club will be able to call a 30,000-square-foot building home. Joining it on New Burton Road will be the 35,000-square-foot Kent County Recreation Center. (Delaware State News photos/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Back in the mid-1990s, Darrell Tingle answered a call — and perhaps a calling — that has led him on a long journey to New Burton Road in Dover.

On the other end of the line was John Hollis.

“He was a mentor of mine and my football coach when I was in high school,” Mr. Tingle said. “He called me one day and said, ‘How would you like to make a difference in the lives of children?’ ”

Mr. Hollis, then with the Delaware Community Foundation, recruited him to help with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware.

“He knew from past experience with me that I enjoyed working with children,” Mr. Tingle said. “It was hard to say no.”

Mr. Hollis was president of the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club which already had made a huge difference in the community.

From the Editor logo copy copyIt came long after Mr. Tingle had grown up in the Seaford community, but he certainly understands the needs and advantages that come with a place where kids can learn and play and benefit from positive role models.

“I draw on the experiences that I had at Seaford High School and the coaches that helped me along the way, and the teachers that helped me along the way,” said Mr. Tingle.

“There were folks in the neighborhood that made sure I kept my nose clean and stayed out of harm’s way. Even some of the people that I felt were hard on me and I thought didn’t like me, they were doing the best things for me.

“I kind of use that when I’m working with kids now. Every kid needs someone every once in a while that will put a hand on their shoulder and ask them how they are or what’s going on.

“It makes a huge difference.”

***

Mr. Tingle, who spent three seasons in the New York Yankees’ minor league baseball system, is now 20 years into a career with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.

He is on the verge of his greatest accomplishment. For more than a decade, he has been with the Greater Dover club, which has hoped for a facility of its own.

In Kent and Sussex, Milford and Seaford are the only other two communities with centers.

In a few months, the doors will open at the club’s new home on New Burton Road.

What is a shell of steel beams on a concrete pad, will soon be a 30,000-square-foot club where young people safely will go for education programs, mentors and more.

Adjoining the club’s space will be the 35,000-square-feet Kent County Recreation Center. In 2007, Kent County Levy Court agreed to a collaborative approach with the Boys & Girls Club on the project. Previously, the club had been considering building in the city of Dover’s Schutte Park.

Mr. Tingle’s latest title with the Boys & Girls Club is director of business development. He had been the executive director of Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club since 2003, coming off a successful stint in Middletown where the

Appoquinimink club went from borrowed school space to a new home in a renovated firehouse.

Now, the club’s Simon Circle and Delaware State University locations will have a permanent home.

Mr. Tingle made a new building for the Greater Dover program a goal from the start.

“My goal now is to make sure that this facility is a success,” he said.

A new building for the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club long was a goal of Darrell Tingle. With the completion of the building in sight, his new goal is to make sure the facility is a success.

A new building for the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club long was a goal of Darrell Tingle. With the completion of the building in sight, his new goal is to make sure the facility is a success.

Most importantly, he said he wants the community to understand its value.

“It’s a lot cheaper to build a strong child than it is to rebuild a broken adult,” he said. “We’re not just going to roll a basketball out. We’re providing life-changing programs.”

The staff of the club will be there to help young people with homework, provide some counseling and more.

“We’re what parents want to be, but sometimes can’t be,” he said.

Even with a new building on the way, the challenges include additional fundraising for building and operating costs, supplies and ongoing community support.

About $1.3 million of the $2 million capital campaign in the Greater Dover area has been secured, Mr. Tingle said.

“We have enough to build the facility, but we still need to equip it,” he said.

There have been a number of fundraisers in the area in support of the club, including Thursday’s Gals that Give gathering in Dover.

The fifth annual Be Great 5K is coming up in November and this year the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club is partnering with the Dancing with the Delaware Stars benefit in January.

Visit the “how you can help” link at http://bgclubs.org/ or call Mr. Tingle at (302) 678-5833 for more information.

***

After-school hours may be among the most critical for young people.

The Boys & Girls Club fills a great void, Mr. Tingle said. Some will walk to the club, others will find transportation.

“They’re coming from an environment where they’re being guided and taught into an environment where they’re being guided and taught – but maybe not as structured,” Mr. Tingle said. “That keeps them out of that trouble.”

Mr. Tingle said he is reminded of the success Seaford had in the initial years after the Western Sussex club opened its doors within a short walk of elementary, middle and high schools.

In 1999, Seaford Police Chief Richard Pounsberry testified at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., about a dramatic drop in juvenile crime. In 1997, the year the club opened, there were 35 juvenile complaints, he said. It was down from 88 in 1996 and 78 in 1995.

“I don’t believe any kid wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘I’m going to do bad.’ I think kids wake up with the general thought they they’re going to do something fun,” Mr. Tingle said. “But somewhere along the way, if they don’t have constructive things to do, something else comes up.

“I think that’s how kids get in trouble. So we provide things do and the community is a lot better off.”

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment