The Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren has operated with support from the community since its inception, according to club director Cindy Faldon.

With the club’s largest fundraiser approaching on Oct. 7, Faldon said the club wanted to honor some of those who helped “keep the lights on” during the early 1960s.

The Mother’s Club was formed by caring mothers of boys who attended what was then the Boys Club of Van Buren.

Spearheading the organization, according to Jere Ann Ocker, co-founder of the Mother’s Club, were Clora Lovelady, Pat Hatfield, Jo Ellen Jones and other caring community supporters.

Ocker recently recalled the long days at the club when the cheerleader program and the queen contest were started. The Mother’s Club purchased popcorn machines, hot dogs and other items needed for the boys.

While researching past board minutes, Faldon found where the Mother’s Club donated the funds to pay the electric bill.

“Some things have not changed over the 50-plus years since the Mother’s Club first started,” Faldon said. “The club still relies heavily on individuals in the community to operate programs for our youth.”

Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren now offers programs during the summer and after school with a daily average attendance of more than 230 members. During these programs, members are given an evening meal and snack, provided by the CACFP food program.

The club also offers athletic programs such as baseball, soccer, basketball and the newest program for 2017, girls volleyball.

Faldon pointed out the Great Futures Gala is vital to the club’s ability to offer these programs.

“The gala serves as the club’s largest annual fundraiser, netting thousands of dollars to support youth programming and operational costs,” Faldon said.

“Horses & Highballs” will be the theme of the fourth annual Great Futures Gala to be at the farm of JR and Rita Young beginning at 6 p.m. Oct. 7. Citizens Bank and Trust Co. will serve as the presenting sponsor.

“This event is important to our organization, helping to raise crucial funds and awareness for the work that we do with the youth of our community,” Faldon said. “We are very grateful to Citizens Bank & Trust for serving as this year’s presenting sponsor and to all of the businesses and individuals who support this event.”

Both a live and silent auction will be part of “Horses & Highballs,” giving gala-goers the opportunity to bid on a wide-range of prizes. Stephanie Riffle will be the master of ceremonies. Live music throughout the evening will be provided by N BYE 10. Dinner, drinks, and dessert will be served at the event. A coffee bar will also be open throughout the night.

Tickets for the event are $75, with tables seating eight beginning at $650.

All proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, whose mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

“Time is running out to purchase tickets for the 2017 Great Futures Gala,” Faldon said. “Our members need your support.”

For more information about the Great Futures Gala, visit www.VBClub.org or call (479) 474-9401.