The Thursday Boys flag flies high in Overton Park

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The Thursday Boys is a non-profit youth organization that is committed to developing leadership skills and instilling the importance of service in the children of Fort Worth.

If you happen to drive past Tanglewood Elementary School on any Thursday afternoon that school is in session, the group is not hard to identify.

A bright blue flag emblazoned with “The Thursday Boys” in Overton Park marks the home to the weekly after school gatherings. However, amid the laughter and excitement, The Thursday Boys facilitates much more than the games a passerby might see.

It is a group where dodge ball or ring toss becomes a leadership opportunity and giving up playtime to protect younger children is a sought after privilege.

“This is a safe environment for the children to play and a place for people to partner with,” Jim Redwine, The Thursday Boys founder, said. “We are a family.”

The group started off 20 years ago as a playgroup for his children and their friends after school on Thursdays, Redwine said. As more children started attending, word of mouth expanded the group to hundreds of children from the Fort Worth area with ages ranging from two to 18.

The group meets rain or shine and they even have a Polar Bear Club when the temperature does not get above 32 degrees during playtime. Redwine nicknamed them the “marines of youth groups.”

As the numbers of children grew at the playtimes, so did the programs offered through The Thursday Boys.

Kids Without Dads is a program that benefits single moms and provides the role of a consistent male figure in the lives of the children, Redwine said.

“Kids Without Dads affords moms an hour, day or weekend out to gather themselves,” he said. The program currently has 54 active children and has expanded to Kids Without Moms as well.

Also, there is now a Tuesday Men’s Fellowship gathering, a Thursday family dinner at Pulido’s Mexican Restaurant and yearlong community service opportunities that the children participate in.

“Children are celebrated for their individual strengths here,” Shay Smith said. “The program gives them goals to achieve with hard work and they learn respect for grownups and other children.” Shay Smith is the Executive Director of The Thursday Boys and parent of two boys in the organization.

Over the past 20 years of operation, The Thursday Boys boasts over 5,000 alumni from its programs. Now, former children return as college students to volunteer their time with Redwine.

Parents have also become an integral part of the Thursday playtimes and volunteer on Thursday afternoons to facilitate the games and participate with the children. Oftentimes, they look like they have just as much fun if not more as their children.

Because it is a non-profit organization, The Thursday Boys exists on the sponsorship of different businesses and personal donations from the community.

Redwine orginially funded the organization through his own personal finances but multiple college tuition bills prompted the organization to become a 501 (c)(3). A 501 (c)(3) is defined as an American tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation or association.

The Thursday Boys is hoping they can expand their programming to more schools.

“We want to start programs similar to Thursday playtime at underprivileged schools such as Como Elementary School,” said Smith. “That’s hopefully where the program is going if we receive more donations.”

A motto of the Thursday Boys is “In The Service Of Others” and all their programming is trying to achieve this attitude, said Smith.

Another one of the mottos of The Thursday Boys is “Fun, Fellowship, Friendship, and Good Sportsmanship” and is written in yellow letters on the back of all their shirts. By the faces of all the children and parents who associate themselves with The Thursday Boys, it certainly seems that all of those goals are accomplished.

For more information on Thursday Boys or to donate to the organization, visit its website www.thethursdayboys.org.

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