Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Club honors Boys and Girls and its founders

Blair Craven credited Tom and Sue Fazio for the vision to start the Boys & Girls Club. Blair Craven credited Tom and Sue Fazio for the vision to start the Boys & Girls Club.

Blair Craven, one of the Boys & Girls Club members, leaders and employees spotlighted on Saturday for their contributions, described his life when he first joined the club.


"I knew about as much at 14 years old as any of us do — which is basically nothing," he said. "I loved my family, I loved baseball, I loved hanging out with my friends; but I hated where I lived. I grew up just two streets down from here in this neighborhood, Green Meadows. All I knew for sure was that I wanted out.
"When I went to the Boys and Girls Club for the first time in 1993, I was only 14 years old. It was a tiny building — one room with a pool table and some furniture. I did love that Pepsi machine, though."
His mom was white.
"I was different, and I was the only one different in that way," he said.
His sister joined the club after he did. She struggled in school and got help from the tutors at the club. A lot has changed since Craven first walked over from his house in Green Meadows to check out the block building with a pool table and a Pepsi machine. The 21 young men and women who stood on Saturday night — 21 stars for 21 years — expressed in their words, their bearing, their poise, their humility, their empathy and their life success what the club has meant.
Craven, now a Merrill Lynch financial adviser and a member of the club's Board of Directors, has a kindergarten age boy of his own who attends the club.
Tom Fazio talks about the Boys & Girls Club founding as Sue Fazio looks on.Tom Fazio talks about the Boys & Girls Club founding as Sue Fazio looks on."The real meat of the story of the Boys and Girls Club," he said "lays in the fact that Tom and Sue Fazio and the Board of Directors continued to push it forward with the pure desire to incite change, not only in the immediate surrounding neighborhood, but in the county as a whole. They knew that making a safe space for children to grow and learn was the way to do that. Now, 21 years later, this place has turned into a program that can literally change a child's life. My family has experienced this personally."

* * * *

There were other highlights. Aleigha Edwards finished up the testimonials with a speech she'll give when she goes to the regional Youth of the Year competition. She's the sixth North Carolina Youth of the Year from the Hendersonville Boys and Girls Club. Space forbids me from quoting her speech, which was really good, or from telling all the achievements of the kids that became teachers, financial advisers, nurses and counselors.
AleighaEdwardsAleigha Edwards, the sixth Hendersonville Boys & Girls Club member to be named North Carolina Youth of the Year, addresses the crowd.I can tell you the room was abuzz after the event with a palpable sense that Hendersonville had once again found a way to be the little engine that could. It could because of heart, because of determination and plain old street smarts — really because of an unlikely golf course designer with coke-bottle glasses and a crooked grin who refused to say no, and because of his wife, who pushed right alongside him to make it happen.
"We had six reasons for starting the club," Sue Fazio said. They had six children — all of whom attended the gala Saturday night to join the rest of the community in thanking their parents.

* * * *

The event had been held at Champion Hills. The clubhouse of the Tom Fazio-designed course filled to overflowing for the event the last couple of years. This year, the committee threw the party at the club itself. It was a home game.
There was Fazio, standing in a locker room, telling Sheriff Charlie McDonald about this very room where it all started. The city owned the property. It was the Green Meadows Community Club, back when the city had a rec department. Fazio thought he could do better ... or thought that this organization that had recruited him to serve on its national board and write a big check — could do better.
People said the Boys & Girls Club couldn't just commandeer a space that it didn't own and start a club serving all the youth of Green Meadows and Cherry Street and Seventh Avenue and beyond. "So what if we don't own it?" Fazio scoffed. "I'm a worst case scenario guy. What's the worst that could happen?"
BoysGirlsBoys & Girls Club event honored 21 Stars for 21 Years and also its founders and longtime supporters.Would the city bust them for a zoning violation? Maybe, and tough beans if it did.
Fazio said he regretted that former Mayor Don Michelove could not be there Saturday night. Michelove got it. He helped make it happen. Fazio held other high cards in his fist — Dave Adams, the money guy, who has been on the board for all 21 years and wields the sharpest pencil in town; Jeff Miller, Tom Apodaca, people I don't know or have failed to mention. Which is just fine with them.

* * * *

The night was, and at this event the night always is, about the kids. Here are their names: Blair Craven, Crystal Lynch, Rayshaun Johnson, Marquita Edwards, Chris McClure, Sabrina Newborn, Africa Nicole Thompson, Ismael Martinez, Rosario Quiroz, Diana Thompson, Tequia Clark, Michele Dills, Felicia Arriaga, Joreeca Dinnall, Courtney Simpkins, Tynesha Smith, Selena Leon, Luis Acosta, Diamond Cash, Tae Brown and Aleigha Edwards.

Oh, yeah. Almost forgot.
The room of friends, donors and supporters honored the Hall of Fame Inaugural Class of 2014, which was the sneaky way Boys & Girls Club leaders devised to recognize Tom and Sue Fazio. Year after year, the highlight of the event is the announcement of the "Local Hero" who had done a lot for the club. Tom and Sue Fazio were the obvious choice, year after year, yet they've always refused the honor. So the organizers went behind their back and invented the Hall of Fame. Inducted were Eleanora Meloun, Beverly and Gary Dillon, Fran Pedersen, Thomas Darnall Jr., John and Cathie McFadden, David Adams, and Sue and Tom Fazio.
I put the Hall of Fame members last because that's where they'd want to be. Check that. They'd just as soon not be publicly recognized at all.
They would all say the same thing.
We did it for the kids. Honor them.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column has been corrected. In the print version of the column, we misattributed Craven's remarks to Ismael Martinez.