Letter to the Editor: Frank Callen’s Legacy In Danger

Why tear down one legacy to try to build another? Is there anyone else in this community who feels that it was grossly insensitive for the present Callen Board of directors to create a series of Boys & Girls Clubs, in this community, and name the Flag Ship Club, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Savannah? Then relegate the founder, Frank Callen’s name to a subordinate unit, a satellite club?

Why reduce one legacy to build another? Why not build on Frank Callen’s established legacy!

As an officer of the juvenile court, Frank Callen discerned a great void in the community. Consequently, with strong support of the Savannah Community in 1917, he established the Savannah Boys Club, the first Boys Club in the entire Southeastern Region.

He served on a voluntary basis as the first director. With strong community support, exceptional financial support from the late Mrs. Sarah Mills Hodge, the endorsement of the local court system, and many outstanding volunteers and prominent citizens, across the racial divide, he was able to develop a Boys Club that proved to be very outstanding.

He was well-known nationally in the Boys Club movement establishing and managing clubs.

Across the years, Frank Callen was cited many times for his faithfulness, efficiency and dedication in directing and managing the club. He and his boys earned the respect of the entire community.

When he died in 1949, the Savannah Morning News cited him for his years of outstanding service to the community and the significant drop off in teen age civil offenses through efforts of his club. The news item ended by declaring him to be a a comm hero.

After his death, the Savannah Boys Club was renamed the Frank Callen Boys Club in his honor. This action was hailed by the entire Boys Club Nation and the local community as a much deserved honor!

I recognize and understand the Callen’s Board’s full responsibility for the Callen Club. What I don’t understand is the reason for not adding his name to the Flagship Club. Instead of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Savannah, why can’t it be FRANK CALLEN BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF GREATER SAVANNAH?

I have also seen directives from the Regional office of Boys & Girls Clubs of America on this matter.

My interpretation is this name change is directed mainly at emerging clubs that are being established. It expressly states, that clubs that are named for icons of communities would not have to be changed.

In this situation, it is entirely up to the local club’s board. I know of several clubs that have elected to maintain their historic names and are remaining in good standing with Boys & Girls Clubs of AMERICA.

Imagine the outcry, community wide, to the H. V. Jenkins Club’s board of directors, establishing another club with another name and relegating the present club to a subordinate status as the H. V. Jenkins unit.

-Walter B. Simmons

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