Friends and family members of the late James Billy Green took turns on Saturday afternoon talking about how kind the man was and how much his work with the Winner’s Club of Calhoun meant to him.
“He had a heart for the children and the Winner’s Club,” said Jim Matthews, a member of the board of directors for the organization. “The Winner’s Club was lucky to have Bill Green as someone who cared, because he really did.”
Green’s family proved that statement to be true Saturday when they donated $50,000 to the club. His three children — Terry Green, Sherri Green and Merri Green Thomas — and widow, Angela Green, were on hand for the presentation. Green, a Calhoun resident who was owner and operator of Greenbrook Carpet Company, died in June at the age of 80.
Sherri Green said that one of the things her family learned most from their dad and his involvement with the club was that it’s the right thing to do to treat everyone equally and that everyone deserves the same opportunities.
The Winner’s Club serves disadvantaged and at-risk children who aren’t or can’t be served by other organizations, explained Executive Director Alan Robertson. About a third of the kids they work with are from foster homes, while none of the children are part of what would be considered traditional families. The club provides mentors, activities and other positives experiences for those kids.
“This was one of dad’s wishes, and this was something he wanted done,” Sherri said of the donation.
Terry Green said he practically grew up in the club on Sugar Valley Road and always enjoyed working there throughout the years. He said it was hard to walk out of the club without a tear in his eye because he knew that what they were doing made a difference.
“We’re honored to give this money. We understand where it is going,” Terry Green said.
Angela Green said she was just overwhelmed by and grateful for the love and support being shown on Saturday. She reminisced about Christmas parties she attended with club members and the impact she saw in young lives, but she also showered her own praise onto the club’s board members.
“Thank you all for the work that you do,” she said.
Sam Thomas, a board member and the lone surviving founder of the Winner’s Club, said Green was a great friend and neighbor. He said Green served on the board during some of the club’s leanest years and it may not have survived without Green’s contributions.
“We did a lot of fundraisers together and he always contributed with not only his time but his money as well,” Thomas said.
Chris Tarpley, who serves as chairman of the board of directors for the club, described Green as kind, loyal and a great friend and added that the Winner’s Club is indebted to Green’s service.
“The only time I felt like he ever got mad at me was when I called him ‘Mr. Green.’ He put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Mr. Green is my father. My name is Bill,’” Tarpley said.
Robertson also said Green was a great friend and said the event on Saturday was bittersweet because he missed the man so much. He talked about how Green would sit and take notes during board meetings, but he’d wait a day or two before calling Robertson with his thoughts and insights.
“I want his kids to know, your dad was one of the smartest men I ever met,” he said, adding that the board intends to commission a plaque in Green’s honor.
Robertson also talked about the Winner’s Club and the service it provides. He said the club strives to surround children with role models and mentors in order to let them know that there are people who are wonderful and loving and caring, even if they don’t often experience that elsewhere.
He said he was proud to know the club was making an impact and mentioned that five club members graduated high school in the spring and five others were recently serving in active duty military roles. He also talked about previous club members who have brought their own children back to the club.
“I know we must be doing something right when we had three mothers graduate the program, fall in love and get married, have kids, and then ask me if they could bring their kids to the club,” Robertson said.
The donation from the Green family will go toward the club’s endowment, said Tarpley.
To learn more about the Winner’s Club or to donate, visit www.calhounwinners.club.