South Carolina

‘Perfect fit’: Lake Wylie nonprofit’s end means brighter future for Clover children

The founder of Lake Wylie’s Kenya Orphanage Project may have reached her goal of helping children without homes, but her charity’s impact isn’t over.

Monique Boekhout’s drive to help children is what brought KOP to life 17 years ago. Now that drive will help at-risk children in Clover.

Boekhout is dissolving KOP by the end of the year, after fulfilling her goal to feed, clothe and build an orphanage for children in Nairobi, Kenya, The Herald previously reported.

“I love those kids. I grow older as they grow up, together. So I have to let go now. But I let go knowing that I helped,” Boekhout said last month.

From KOP’s ending comes a new start for Clover’s Stellie J. Jackson Enrichment Center.

The center, named for the first African-American Clover school board member, provides Clover students with faith-based education, academic assistance and social opportunities, according to the nonprofit’s website.

“We’re teaching them morals and teaching them self-confidence and having that inner strength to be who they are,” said Liz Johnson, executive director. “We encourage them every day to do their best and be themselves.”

Boekhout is donating $80,000 from KOP to the center, for which she is a board member.

“The goal and mission of KOP has always been promoting education, so this was a perfect fit to spend the money we had left,” Boekhout said.

Boekhout is also donating funds to Boys & Girls Club of York County.

Future growth

Stellie Jackson Center leaders broke ground Friday at what will be their new home. The new facility will be at 322 Mobley Street, across from the current building.

The new center will house four classrooms, one of which also will be used as a music room, and multi-purpose space, Johnson said. With more room, the center hopes to double the current maximum of 15 students it can serve at a time, she said.

The center currently serves children from Kinard Elementary School in Clover. The goal is to serve at-risk students from other Clover schools as the center grows, Johnson said.

“We know there are all kinds of problems happening in public schools and we want these children to be strong enough to stand up to them in the right way, with courage,” she said.

Clover Superintendent Sheila Quinn said the center has made a difference.

“We are delighted to partner with the Stellie Jackson Center. Our students need the support,” Quinn said. “What we know from the research is very clear. If a child has one consistent, loving adult in their life, they can beat the odds and be resilient.”

The Stellie Jackson Center’s new facility is, in part, thanks to the funds from KOP. The center also receives support from the Community Church of Lake Wylie, Carolina Trust Bank, Clover school district and the Upper Palmetto YMCA, Johnson said.

“The community’s behind us,” Boekhout said.

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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