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In a video produced by a University of North Carolina photojournalism class three years ago, Kim Taresco spoke of her passion for the Boys & Girls Club of Halifax County.

“This was where I needed to be,” she said in the short documentary. “I wanted them to have a safe place to learn and grow.”

Taresco, who died Thursday after a sustained illness, also spoke of her long struggle with juvenile diabetes which was pitted against her longtime stint as the club’s executive director. “I knew God kept me here for a reason.”

Today several board members past and present as well as those who worked closely with the club remembered her spirit.

“Kim was one of the biggest advocates for children in this community,” said Les Atkins, a former president of the board. “She worked tirelessly to keep that club going for all these years.”

There were times, he said, when the club risked closing. “She did fundraisers because she did not want this community to go without the Boys & Girls club.”

Said Vernon Bryant, chair of the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, “She was a very nice lady who contributed a lot to community, especially the Boys & Girls club.”

Judy Evans-Barbee, who served on the board for 20 years, said, “The kids always loved her and respected her. She would do anything for them even when she didn’t feel the best in the world. She had a heart of gold. As a board member I felt very fortunate she was in charge.”

There were times Taresco would work from her wheelchair or use a walker, Evans-Barbee said. To Taresco, that didn’t matter. “She was there. She was just the most kind-hearted person and was sensitive to the needs of the children and folks in general. It’s such a loss.”

Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp donated proceeds from his Benefiting the Children of Halifax County fundraisers to the club on several occasions. “I’ve known Kim a long time,” he said. “We went to school together. For many of us Kim was our angel on earth and for many of us she is our guardian angel now.”

Tripp said Taresco was always trustworthy. “Knowing her heart and how she felt about people, you could always trust Kim. The Roanoke Valley has lost a true advocate for our children. Her spirit and life itself served as an example of how we should live and serve other people.”

Bessie Piggott, a current member of the board, said, “We lost a beautiful spirit. You could feel what spirit she had. She just loved those children. She didn’t see color. She saw their potential, she saw where they were going, she saw the potential they could do well. She just loved them.”

Most people facing the health challenges Taresco had, Piggott said, would have gone on disability. “She wanted to continue to work because she saw the future of those kids. This was her life. I think this made her live longer. This was in her heart, her spirit, her soul.”

Piggott described Taresco as fighter, a strong-willed person who wanted to make those she talked to feel better about themselves. In the face of financial woes with the club, Piggott said, “Kim would never give up. We are in much better shape. She kept that alive. It was going to be a better place.”

Susan Hodge, head chair of the board and a longtime board member, said Taresco was elected to the position of executive director about 10 to 12 years ago. “I think it’s a big loss for the community. She was a such a wonderful, caring person. Her heart and soul was in the club with those boys and girls. There wasn’t a child who graduated who wouldn’t come back and give her a hug. My hope is her legacy will continue with the Boys & Girls club. My hope is the community will remember.”

Hodge said when parents couldn’t pay Taresco would not turn the children away. “Her thought was it was better for a child to have self worth and being part of something. She gave stability to their lives.”

Even during her latest hospital stay, Hodge said, “She fought such a good fight. There was always first and foremost the kids.”

Every year the club held a Thanksgiving party for the children, parents and board members. “That was a big event for us,” Hodge said. “Kim would work tirelessly to make sure that came off, to have enough for everybody and make sure everyone had plates to take home. I believe she left the world thinking about the kids and this would go on and the kids were taken care of.”

The Roanoke Rapids Police Department worked closely with the Boys & Girls club. “She will be missed,” Chief Chuck Hasty said. “She was an asset to our community and the Boys & Girls club. She was dedicated to the boys and girls down there. They were her heart and soul. She did anything within her power to keep them focused on the good things.”