Smiling nearly non-stop, a multi-tasking Katherine Palmer was unfazed as a stray ping pong ball sailed into her face on a recent afternoon and skipped away.
Palmer is CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Brown County, and she took visitors including Brownwood insurance agent Dustin Larremore through several areas of the club including the game room on a recent afternoon.
Palmer good-naturedly agreed to a “dramatic re-enactment” of the ping pong incident for the sake of a photo.
Larremore interacted easily with several of the children at the club, including Aquarius Russell, a third-grader at East Elementary, which whom he played an impromptu game of ping pong. A few minutes later, Larremore stood next to a pool table with Coggin Elementary fourth-grader Kendall Jones and racked pool balls.
Palmer had invited Larremore to visit the club so she could recognize him for his recent donation of art supplies, as well as pool cue bridges.
Thanks to Larremore’s donation, the club was able to restock its arts and crafts room with supplies including 12 gallons of paint, brushes and bulk packs of markers and crayons.
“In our arts and crafts room, we’ve really been focusing on bringing in some more arts skills,” Palmer said. “In the past it’s been a lot of paper crafts, but this allows us to do some painting.
“Over the summer a lot of our kids were really interested in doing the Bob Ross paint-along tutorials. That was a huge hit. We found that painting is really big with these kids. So the new brushes and new paints allowed us to do more things like that.”
Previously the club bought small bottles of paint. “It wouldn’t last us very long or get us very far,” Palmer said. “But I’m hopeful that all of these gallons of paint will last us through the school year and allow us to do some more of the Bob Ross- style paint-along tutorials, and teach kids some techniques.”
Larremore said he likes the way the Boys & Girls Club helps and educates children.
“I can impact, hopefully, some youth,” Larremore said, noting that with society’s focus on sports, liberal arts activities such as art are sometimes overlooked.
“I saw a need and we want to help when we can,” Larremore said.
In the game room, Larremore and Aquarius played their ping pong game on a brand new table that Palmer found in a club storage room, still in its box.
And while the pool tables aren’t new, pockets in the pool tables have recently been repaired.
The club is holding pool and ping pong tournaments, and children are being taught the tools of the games, Palmer said.
The game room also has a shuffleboard table, which has been repaired, cleaned and glossed, Palmer said.
She said she hopes hobbyists will volunteer to come to the club and teach techniques and strategies to the games.
In another part of the club, hospitality greeter Rose Wallace signed visitors in and out of the club. Visitors are given badges.
The club is “not just baby-sitters,” Palmer said, but an after-school program.