Gainesville, Texas is the quintessential Texas small town. There’s only a few thousand who live there. It’s a relatively poor community with a medium income of $30,000 and one in five residents living below the poverty line. Located at the Texas border of Oklahoma, its biggest employers are the local casino and the airline seat manufacturer.
And, it’s social activities are focused on football.
It’s hometown for Larry Meador, president of evok advertising, who grew up in Gainesville. At the time, in the early 1980s, all of the football programs were run by the Boys Clubs.
“The whole town came out to see the games,” Meador says. “I played on a team that started together when we were 7 years old and eventually won state championships.”
Each of the teams were sponsored by local companies, the owners of whom would come and talk to the youth about what they needed to do to work for their companies. It provided a telescope into your future.
But football at the Boys Clubs was just a piece of the Boys Clubs experience for Meador. School was never a priority for his family as not one of his brothers and sisters graduated high school, including Larry. The goal for most people was to get a job after graduation if they could and many who couldn’t lost their lives to alcohol and drug addictions.
The Boys Clubs was his salvation. Every day, he would ride his bike the four miles to the club. It was the place for boys to congregate. It’s where he learned to swim. It’s where he could play baseball and other games.
“It was a refuge,” Meador says. “I could go there, have tons of friends and play with tons of stuff I didn’t have at home.”
It also taught him how to excel at school because they had to do one hour of homework, even if they didn’t have any. It taught him responsibility, because he had to have his card and sign out to continue to participate in the clubs activities.
“It was a sense of responsibility, order and structure that turned into a sense of pride for myself,” Meador says. “It showed me that I could go to make something of myself that I could go to college.”
Even though Meador did not graduate high school, he obtained his GED, attend junior college and eventually graduated from the University of Florida where he now serves on the advisory council that helps set the curriculum for today’s students. He founded and runs one of Central Florida’s leading advertising agencies, with some of the best-known brands in the country turning to his firm’s expertise.
He realizes the difference The Boys & Girls Clubs gave him.
“May people without the structure of the Boys Clubs fell tragically or never made anything of themselves,” he says. “Because of my time at the Boys Clubs, I was able to set a different course. It was the difference in my life.”