PARKERSBURG- Although he is retiring, Mike Flanagan will continue working to making the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg the best place it can be for the youth of the area.
The club held a retirement party for Flanagan, who has served as the club's executive director since late 1994, Wednesday evening. People involved with the club, from staff and those representing organizations that have supported the facility to family and friends, came out to thank Flanagan for the work he has done for the organization.
Flanagan greeted people and talked about old times as well as discussed things that still need to be done around the facility on Mary Street.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Mike Flanagan, the former executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg, receives a plaque from the club’s board Secretary Becky Deem as board member Yvonne Santin looks on during a retirement party for Flanagan Wednesday evening at the club.
"I wanted to thank everyone," Flanagan said. "Everyone here knows how they helped me and helped the kids.
"We have built a good strong club here that is friendly and fun. That is what we wanted it to be."
Flanagan's successor, Ben Shuman, said he wants to continue to build the club and add to what Flanagan has established and keep those opportunities going for the youth of this area.
"Mike was the one who made sure it stayed afloat and made sure the doors stayed open," Shuman said. "If it wasn't for him and the board of directors behind him, the club may not be here. He is the reason we still have the club."
Renovations to the club's facilities, including the gym and the swimming pool, are some of the things Flanagan is proud of.
"We got it looking good," Flanagan said. "The biggest thing has been we have really turned the club around."
Flanagan points to 1997 as the year when the situation took off in new directions as that was the first time the facility was open to both boys and girls. It was the first year the annual Kids Golf Classic and the annual Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg Steak & Burger Dinner kicked off.
"Those two fundraisers are now generating over $200,000 a year," Flanagan said.
The club receives assistance from the United Way and foundations and endowments.
Flanagan said it has been about keeping things fun for the kids who use the facility.
"If they are not having fun, they are not going to come."
The facility is averaging 155 to 165 youths a day during the summer.
"I think, at one time, this was the best kept secret in Parkersburg," Flanagan said. "Now we are out in the community and schools.
"Without the kids, we wouldn't be anything. I think this place has been a resource for the community."
The Boys & Girls Club has kept the kids off the streets and out of trouble during those hours when they are most vulnerable, he said, with leadership to college-bound programs and other educational programs.
"I think it has meant a lot to the community," Flanagan said.
He credits a dedicated staff and other supporters at the center with giving a lot for the club to be a success. Flanagan said he has loved what he does.
"This has been a labor of love."
Flanagan said he will be devoting more time to his children and grandchildren, but will still be out in the community working on behalf of the club.
The club's board is considering keeping Flanagan on as the resource development person involved in fundraising.
"I think he has done a wonderful job," said Judy Armstrong of Parkersburg. "I think he has used his gifts and talents for the children of Wood County."
Becky Deem, secretary of the club's board, said Flanagan has given a lot of time to the organization.
"He was able to rally people and get the club on its feet," she said. "Now we are in a new phase with a new talented young man and I think we will grow even more."