Oprah Dedicates New Boys and Girls Club

By Wendy Suares

A talk show icon returned to her home state Monday to leave her legacy. Oprah Winfrey spent her first six years in Kosciusko, Mississippi.  Now thanks to her, children there have a new positive place to grow.

With a smile and a wave, Oprah Winfrey greeted hundreds of fans gathered in her birthplace of Kosciusko, eager to get a glimpse as she dedicated the brand new Boys and Girls Club that bares her name. "This center belongs to you," she told the crowd. "And I want you to nurture it, support it, take care of it, and lift it up."

The 32 thousand square foot center boasts state of the art computer labs, a music room, arts center, and the favorite of one 8 year old-- a library, "Because it has books," Katrina Lowery says.

It's said at every great event everyone seems to gather in the kitchen, and that's true at the Boys and Girls Club, where kids got a cooking lesson from Oprah's chef. Art Smith, Oprah's personal chef for over a decade, showed kids some creative pizza recipes, that are inspiring and nutritious. "We didn't even talk about health," he said. "We just said we're going to have fun and make pizza. But we just so happen to have healthy ingredients."

The center is place for Attala County school aged children to go after school, to do their homework and have fun. But the estimated $5 million dollar facility stands out from other Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide.  The organization's president, Roxanne Spillette, spoke at the ribbon cutting. "I stand before the finest club I have ever seen in America," she said.

And that was Oprah's dream when she decided to take on this project and support this Boys and Girls Club for the next 10 years. Even the younger children understand her role in making it all happen. "Because she's rich," says 8 year old Tyler Dodd.

"Let God take control and God will dream a bigger dream for this center and for this community than I could have ever dreamed of myself," said Oprah.

The center will serve approximately 300 children ages 5 through 18 in Attala County. It replaces the old Boys and Girls Club there that was run out of an old school building.