|By Marion P. Blackburn
GREENVILLE, N.C. – Before excelling in the classroom and on the football field, Alge Crumpler learned about scholarship and competition at The Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County in Greenville.
So when the local group asked the Atlanta Falcons star to serve as honorary chairman of its $7 million capital campaign, he readily agreed.
“I’ve been in close contact with the people who have run the club since I’ve been gone,” he says. “It’s a relationship I kept. When they asked me to serve, it was a no-brainer. I spent so much time in the club, on a daily basis, that I wanted to figure out how to give back.”
The Kids Under Construction campaign aims to build two new centers and expand another.
It will also endow the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County Foundation to support the facilities’ operating costs.
Once completed, the clubs could welcome 1,000 new children.
Four clubs in Pitt County serve about 2,000 children ages six to 18, with a small charge for parents.
The need for more services continues to grow, with about 5,000 children in the area lacking after-school care, says Jay Faron, the clubs’ executive director.
Events such as the recent shooting of a 10-year old club member and a 13-year old have underscored the importance of the project.
| Alge Crumpler
Education: UNC-Chapel Hill, B.A., communications
Job: Tight end, Atlanta Falcons
Family: Wife, Jennifer; 13-month-old daughter, Kendal
Football family: Father, Carlester Crumpler Sr., played for Buffalo Bills, broadcasts football for East Carolina University. Older brother, Carlester Jr. played for Minnesota Vikings.
Enjoys: Golf, writing.
Motto: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s own courage.” Anais Nin.
|One site will serve an area devastated by flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, where resources are limited to address demand.
About $2.5 million has already been pledged, Faron says.
“Young people come here not just to have a safe place to be, but for the academics,” Faron says. “We have a well-rounded program, with activities in the arts, and exposure to a lot of positive things during their time here.
“It’s about developing their full potential, not just warehousing them or entertaining them. That’s what people remember when they look back on their years at the club. It broadens their horizons.”
Before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was an Atlantic Coast Conference football standout, Crumpler spent afternoons as a schoolboy and teen at the club until he began playing sports year-round at age 15.
“My first computer experiences were at the club,” Crumpler says. “We had study-all hours. I had a place where everyday I was able to interact with people I didn’t go to school with.”
Hs experiences make it easy for him to add this role to an already full schedule.
“I do as much as I can, and I can’t do everything,” he says. “I try, but I can’t. So I do the best I can. My concern was to do everything I could to get more funds so other kids could have the opportunities I did.”
Keeping himself in shape prevents injuries on the field, he says. Likewise, children can stay in good mental and emotional shape when they have the healthy home-away-from-home the Boys & Girls Clubs can provide.
He made a significant financial contribution to the capital campaign that he prefers to keep undisclosed.
The Atlanta Falcons will also contribute $7,500 a year for 10 years, Faron says.
Crumpler, a Greenville native who received scholarship scholarships in both academics and athletics, loved writing but dreamed of playing football.
A two-time Pro Bowler, he still is living his dream as a tight end for the Falcons.
He attributes his achievements in many ways to the instruction and encouragement he found at the club.
He also gave a scholarship to UNC, paying back the one he received in 1996.
“I put my money where my mouth is,” he says. “I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been blessed — and every time I give back it seems like I get more blessed.”