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Boys & Girls Club celebrates new gym

Boys & Girls Club members celebrate the new teen gym by running around. Boys & Girls Club members celebrate the new teen gym by running around.

Instead of a conventional ribbon cutting, the Boys & Girls Club celebrated the opening of its new gym and the launch of a fundraising campaign with what the club does best — knowing what kids like to do.

A ribbon cutting, Executive Director Julie Hockenberry told a gathering of club supporters, is not really a Boys & Girls Club type of activity. She called on kids to do their thing. They ran joyfully around the gym as the supporters cheered.
The 5,500-square-foot gym, the first building in the youth club’s three-phase expansion, will be devoted to sports and recreation for middle and high school kids.
“We have families and kids who want to be here and need to be here and we don’t have space for them,” Hockenberry said. “This will take some heat off our present situation. We’ve been operating over capacity.”
The club has become a victim of its own success. It boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for regular members. Since 2012 daily attendance has surged by 40 percent — now serving 1,302 children, an average of 334 during the school year and 415 in the summer. Meanwhile, 422 kids languished on the waiting list and 204 never got in.
“We’re committed to high quality programs and facilities that are accessible to the kids who need us most,” Hockenberry said. “Demand for club services has outpaced our capacity, so we must grow.”
The club is a third of the way through its ambitious three-phase plan to expand its space by 19,000 square feet. By the end of 2019, the expansion will have created one connected facility including 19 classrooms, a designated teen campus, two gyms, three game rooms, two libraries, counseling space, a conference room and more secure entry and exit points.
To jumpstart the next phase of the Great Futures Giving Society fundraising campaign, Randy Hunter of Hunter Subaru presented a challenge grant check for $15,000.
The new teen gym will be home to Triple Play, a “Mind Body and Soul” program that encourages physical fitness, healthy eating and appropriate social skills. The new space also will be used for “a lot of good old-fashioned running around, volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, soccer, field hockey,” Hockenberry said.