Appearing in Stephens County Tuesday, the state’s labor commissioner said it is important for a community to engage its children to ensure a bright future.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler delivered that message as the keynote speaker at the 21st annual Toccoa-Stephens County Boys’ and Girls’ Club Benefit Dinner held at the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Toccoa.
Butler thanked those businesses and individuals who support children through programs such as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and make a difference in both the life of a child and in the greater community.
He said programs like the Boys’ and Girls’ Club are essential to help children succeed.
“These programs are preparing a lot of our young people that may not have some support systems at home sometimes, to teach them the things they need to know, different kind of social skills, soft skills that they need to have so they can be successful in the job market,” said Butler.
Butler said by helping children succeed in school and life at an early age, they go on to help make a community’s workforce stronger.
A strong workforce is something Butler said is the number one thing businesses look for in an area.
“We can have great incentives out there and great locations, like industrial parks, but what the companies talk to us about is that they want to make sure that they have people in those communities that have the skills they need, that can do the jobs they have,” said Butler. “More importantly, that those people have the soft skills they pick up at places like the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.”
Butler’s message was well received by Toccoa-Stephens County Boys’ and Girls’ Club Director Cindy Arnold.
She said it was great to receive that support from a state official such as Butler.
“I appreciate that we got the 50,000 foot view instead of the local view,” said Arnold. “For him, he does not have the privilege of being able to see each and every face every day. What he sees are the struggles of all Georgians across the state. For him to say this is where it starts, preparing our children, making sure they come up with the right values and education, and (talk) about how it spirals upward and affects us positively, I think it was so on point.”
Tuesday’s benefit dinner raises money to help support programs at the Toccoa-Stephens County Boys’ and Girls’ Club.
Arnold said that support from the community is vital.
“It really takes $100 a month a child,” said Arnold, taking into account all of the different costs associated with the club. “Every time that $100 mark is met, that is a child that we are supporting.”
Arnold said the response for this year’s dinner from the community was wonderful and adds she and the club appreciate all of that support.