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Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Bruce Jeffery on Wednesday said goodbye to friends and supporters in a celebration at the Decatur Club. 

While we're happy for someone who leaves for something that appears to be a better opportunity, we still acknowledge our twinges of regret when an integral member of the community leaves.

That's our feeling about Bruce Jeffery. He's leaving Decatur after 11 years with Boys and Girls Club of Decatur, including the last seven as its executive director. He's leaving for Louisville, Kentucky, and a job as executive director at the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA of Greater Louisville.

When people reluctantly praise someone, they speak in generalities. Those speaking about Jeffery are quite specific about what they like and how important he's been.

Among his top accomplishments with Boys and Girls Club of Decatur is his fundraising ability, including several renovation efforts, and a program where DPS graduates can interview for full-time employee positions with Archer Daniel Midland Co. He also secured the $710,000 in funds provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for a teen center to serve youth ages 13 and up.

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He also volunteered with the Decatur Police Department to show children and the community that it is important to see police as an asset there to serve and protect them and not an opposing force.

The Boys and Girls Club of Decatur was founded in 1972 and serves children with various programs for youth ages 7 to 17 with an emphasis on education, career, health, life skills and sports. "My time working at the club was amazing. But truly, without the powerful staff I was able to work with, none of what I helped achieve would have been possible," Jeffery said.

Past board member Priscilla Palmer said Jeffery's legacy will live on in the lives he's touched. “Sometimes to grow, you need to go and we are wishing him the best of luck especially after all the love he has put into Decatur," she said.

A replacement to fill Jeffery's position has not yet been announced. Those are big shoes to fill.

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