Released 10 September 2012
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When group of teenagers who participate in The Salvation Army of Martin County's Club 3:16 Youth Program wanted to purchase specific finishings for their new Teen Room, they looked no farther than to their volunteer Youth Leader for support. Greg Williamson, a youth activities volunteer leader from Port St. Lucie, encouraged the teens in their fundraising efforts by letting his hair grow - literally! And so was born the "To Cut or Not To Cut" fundraiser.
The Club 3:16 program moved into its new space in November of 2011when The Salvation Army opened its new Meyering Center for Services and Worship at 821 SE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in East Stuart. "For the first time, the teens had their own space," explained Mariel Broffman, Salvation Army Mission Specialist. "And they wanted to furnish it with teen-type stuff, including a large-screen television and game console. Since these items were not included in the budget for the new building, the teens took it upon themselves to raise the funds."
Only what to do . . . . in conversations with Williamson, he offered to "let the fate of his hair be determined by the funds raised by the teens." In essence, donors to the fundraiser could designate whether or not Williamson should cut his hair or keep it long. For nearly a year, Williamson has not cut his hair, as the teens had not raised enough money to meet their $1,000 goal. Even throughout the hot summer months, Williamson kept his word - and let his hair grow.
"Finally, we had to make the decision as to whether or not Greg could cut his hair," said Broffman. "Unfortunately the teens didn't make their $1,000 goal, but they did raise enough for the television," she said. "And the overwhelming consensus was that Greg should cut his hair!"
The big day for Williamson finally arrived on Sunday, August 26th. During Sunday School, the teens gathered together with Williamson and local beauty salon owner Sherry Rycenga Riggs, who volunteered to make the cut! "After nearly a year, it was a little scary for Greg to let someone cut his hair," laughed Broffman. "But he was such a good sport and the kids had a really great time." Broffman explained that Evangeline Sanchez, a teen enrolled in the Club 3:16, actually won the right to make the first snip, thanks to her hard work on the project. Fifteen minutes later, Williamson emerged a new man - or at least a man with a lot less hair!
Broffman gives a lot of credit to the teenagers. "They really pulled together and donated every penny that they could," she said. "They talked it up among themselves, their friends and other church members. And while they fell short, they learned a lot about teamwork and project coordination."
The youth of Club 3:16 are still actively seeking donations to purchase the additional furnishings for the Teen Room. Broffman noted that donations can be mailed to The Salvation Army of Martin County, P.O. Box 2475, Stuart, FL 34994 with the words "Club 3:16" in the memo line. And while there are no plans to ask Williamson to grow his hair long again - "you never know," laughed Broffman. "Maybe next time he'll shave it!"
The Youth Department of the Salvation Army of Martin County works diligently to be a positive influence on area youth. The mission of Club 3:16 is to encourage children to have a sense of personal identity and Christian character and to promote physical, mental, spiritual and social development. Club 3:16 meets Tuesday evenings at 5:30 p.m. for varied activities. For more information, please contact 772-288-1471.