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4/14/2013 6:00:00 AM
Ward takes charge at Boys & Girls Club of Kingman
Happier atmosphere evident at downtown youth center
Bill Ward is the new chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Kingman.DOUG McMURDO/Miner
Bill Ward is the new chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Kingman.

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - If the Boys & Girls Club of Kingman had a theme song to complement its recent revival, it would be "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Individuals and local businesses have donated material and man-hours to the club and the results have been stunning. The gloom is gone, replaced with sunshine to go along with the return of warm weather.

As icing on the cake, the club's board of directors has hired Bill Ward as the new chief professional officer.

"This community is ready to take a stand for kids," said Ward, 40, who moved to Kingman as a 6-year-old and left in the middle of his senior year at Kingman High School.

Twenty years later, after working at a number of jobs ranging from eye care to retail jewelry sales in cities in California, Missouri and Illinois, Ward returned and began volunteering at the Salvation Army in 2011.

"I wanted to be with my family," he said, "and I wanted to get involved in the community, so I joined the Salvation Army as a volunteer."

He also joined the Lions Club and the Downtown Merchant Association, two groups that played key roles in turning around the troubled nonprofit agency that serves Kingman's most vulnerable citizens.

The Salvation Army officers were soon transferred to other cities and Ward was made director at a time the doors were about to close for good.

In short order, he assembled a team of employees and, no pun intended, an army of volunteers that revitalized the Salvation Army.

He raised community awareness and formed partnerships with the local Lions Club and Journey Church, businesses and residents.

The effort paid immediate dividends as the Salvation Army is viable once again.

The Christmas Kettle Drive, for example, cost the Salvation Army about $13,000 to pay bell ringers every holiday season. He worked with local businesses and volunteers to trim about $10,000 from that cost.

The board of directors believes Ward can work the same magic at the Boys & Girls Club.

This time, much of the heavy lifting has already been done before Ward begins work Monday.

"This community has been amazing the past two months," said Monica Busch, board president.

The Home Depot in Kingman donated paint, epoxy and sandpaper. The company also paid the rental fee on a concrete grinder and large vacuum cleaner. Busch estimates the store's contribution totaled about $1,000.

Arizona Sign Company donated 13 free signs. Sunshine Cleanup donated material and volunteer Jim McNulty spent countless hours helping move cabinets and haul trash.

Frontier donated new phones and phone lines. Mohave State Bank donated about three-dozen chairs for the club's theater. The stage flooring will be replaced.

The Kingman Unified School District gave the club a long-term lease at $1 a year and Ward said he wants to get every school in Kingman involved.

All in all, the club looks brighter and far more welcoming than it did a couple of months ago. A big screen TV and game console that had been donated a year ago but never unboxed has been set up. Photographs of children who have done well in school dot the walls, and smiles - which really are contagious, apparently - are on every face.

The Lee Williams High baseball team volunteers at the club, giving the children role models. Other students read to club members, work puzzles with them and otherwise give them someone closer to their own age to look up to.

From the perspective of Ward and the board of directors, along with Program Director Debbie Thomas and Program Assistant Lorie Van Breemen, the improvements have been made with one goal in mind: Give the children of Kingman a safe, fun place to call home after school and during the lazy days of summer.

"It really is all about the kids," said Ward.

He said he hasn't had time to come up with a specific list of priorities yet, but he knows where he's going to start.

"The biggest plan is to make the club something people want to get involved with," he said. "I want people to know the fun is back at the Boys & Girls Club of Kingman."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: Marina M

Congrats Bill! You are so awesome! Such a loving & kind person. Perfect for this! I am SO SO SO Happy for you. You are what we should all strive to be. YAY!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Way to go

Ever since Bill took over TSA , I have become a regular shopper and tell all my friends. I learned that the proceeds go to only a few paid staff and the rest to help people in need, right here in Kingman. So thrilled to learn Bill will be involved with the BGC, he will bring a much needed awareness and fresh ideas to assist the children with a safe and fun environment.

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: Salvation Army Worker

I work at the Sally also and i must say WAY TO GO BILL!!! :D Thumbs up!

Bill is VERY good to work for and he knows how to bring an organization together! If it wasnt for Bill and his efforts, there would be no Salvation Army left here! :(

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: Laurel Clark

The Boys and Girls Club is so lucky to have Bill Ward. He's a positive influence, for sure! And I love how the community has pulled together to keep things going. Well done!

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