May 20, 2022 — Leadership Lee County class of 2022 transforms areas at local Boys and Girls Club creating “a space where kids can dream”

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County has three newly renovated spaces thanks to the hard work of the Leadership Lee County class of 2022. The cohort, consisting of 26 professionals from Lee County, combined efforts over eight months to develop the project concept, raise over $13,000 in cash and in-kind donations, and physically complete their service project, The Clubhouse Project, benefiting the local clubhouses of the Boys and Girls Club.

“We want a space where kids can dream,” Tenisha King, Director of Philanthropy & Engagement at Boys and Girls Club, told the Leadership Lee County (LLC) project team. This statement was the inspiration for the Clubhouse Project. “We worked really hard to make sure that our vision was always focused on making these spaces a place where kids can do that. Whether it is reading in the library, contemplating in the Zen Den, or creating in the Maker’s room,” said project leader and financial team lead Jeremy Gibson.

LLC class member Lauren Faulkner proposed the idea of a Zen Den to King, sparking the project concept. Project leader, Katie Murray, worked with the project team leaders, Emmy Sorrells for Opelika and Allison Blankenship for Auburn, to design a plan for updating the spaces at each location. The teams coordinated with the respective Clubhouse Directors, Janataka Holmes and Cody Buzby, to execute the plan. Hundreds of kids utilize the Boys and Girls Club’s facilities and programs after school and in the summer. The LLC class chose this for their service project because they felt it would have a huge positive impact on the lives of young people in our community.

“It was a unique and especially rewarding opportunity that our Leadership Lee County class chose a project to benefit Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lee County this year when I was a part of the class,” said Emmy Sorrells, BGCGLC Board of Directors Vice Chair. “Serving on the Board of BGCGLC for the past five years, and after the incredibly challenging last two years, we are so grateful for the work that was done by the LLC class to provide spaces for our kids that they will be able to use for years to come. The Zen Den and the Creators Room will help our club to further reach their true potential and we are thrilled to have them for our kids!”

At the Auburn location, 400 Boykin Street, LLC members created a Zen Den and a Reading Room to evoke a sense of calmness and focus. The team worked on several Saturdays painting orange walls a soothing gray color and trimming black windows with the same subtle hue. They cleaned, added carpet, soft lighting, and comfortable seating so the kids can read books or have quiet time to stimulate reflective thought and deep learning.

“Since the pandemic, kids have become much savvier about the health benefits of rest and are eager to experience the same sense of calmness that adults are seeking out,” said team member Kari Myers. “The Zen Den was our way of making sure these kids have the opportunity to escape and focus on themselves.”

The Opelika location at 1610 Toomer Street gained a Creators Room stocked with games, STEM toys, and art supplies to encourage the kids to use their creativity, gain knowledge, and dream big. Over several weekends, LLC members painted the walls, hung a large white board, and created a Lego wall. They assembled tables, chairs, and storage carts to furnish the fresh learning environment for the kids. The final touch was a colorful, custom-designed mural that invigorates the space.

The mission of the Boys and Girls Club is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. The Leadership Lee County class of 2022 service project helps enable the organization to fulfill its mission.

A special thank you to Machen McChesney, BancorpSouth, East Alabama Medical Center, and Pivotal Finance for their significant contributions to the project. LLC would also like to thank Mikata and Foosackly’s for hosting restaurant benefit nights for the project. Numerous friends and family members close to home and across the country donated to the efforts of the project that could not have happened without their support.

The Clubhouse Project culminated the year-long professional development and community engagement experience for the LLC class of 2022 members: Brooke Bailey, Allison Blankenship, Lauren Faulkner, Hannah Gerken, Jeremy Gibson, Gene Gilmore, Sidney Hancock, Kevin Howard, Jay James, Dan Mason, Terry Mitchell, Paige Moore, Katie Murray, Kari Myers, April Neese, Amy Pope, Lesley Price, Kristin Roberts, Kate Ruud, Sylvia Scaife, Emmy Sorrells, Mike Stover, Kim Vessenmeyer, Chris Waits, Jessica Wilson, and David Wisdom.

“I have truly had the best experience learning, working, and getting to know each person,” class member Gene Gilmore said. “I’d love to continue our chats and maintain these relationships.” Leadership Lee County is a nonprofit organization that identifies, develops, and inspires future leaders through professional development, educational opportunities, and community involvement. The program is sponsored by the Auburn and Opelika Chambers of Commerce and members are selected annually based on ability, demonstrated interest in the community, and potential for responsible and effective leadership.

For details regarding the Clubhouse Project, please contact Katie Murray at For more information about Leadership Lee County, please contact Executive Director Aubrey Morrison at If you would like more information about supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County, please visit or contact Richard B. Curry, Jr., President & CEO, at (334) 502-1311 ext. 2 or