Club prepares for September opening
Date: 8/16/2011Aug. 17, 2011
By Debbie Gardner
WESTFIELD The roof has definitely been raised at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield, and Executive Director William Parks said he expects the majority of the 10,000 square foot new building to be ready to welcome club members in early September.
“The flooring guy was in my office an hour ago, Parks told Reminder Publications
on Aug. 9. “Everyone says we’ll be ready, so I’m going with that.”
He confirmed that the new gymnasium and a few of the side rooms might not be completed until the middle September, but added, “We’re all excited that the majority of the building will be ready.”
He also said the club still needs to raise approximately $500,000 to reach its overall goal of $2.6 million to fully fund the renovations.
“Currently we have raised close to $2.1 million,” Parks said, adding there were still members of the community and some foundations that the club was planning to contact about making a contribution to the project.
Individual donations, he added, are still very welcome.
“Any type of contribution large, small or in the middle will make a difference,” Parks said. “We’ve had young members [of the club] make a donation of a quarter and we’ve had major donations of $150,000. It all helps us get to that final number.”
Parks said the expansion project which was originally planned to cost a little more than $2.3 million but grew to $2.6 million “because we had a couple of add-ons” was made necessary by the growing popularity of the club.
“The building we’re in opened in 1991 and over the last seven or eight years we’ve really made some dramatic increases in membership and programs,” Parks said. “We’ve also expanded our staffing to meet those [programming] needs.”
The expansion, Parks said, has allowed the club to, among other changes, triple the size of its education room and connect it to a 25-station computer lab, create a teen center and age-appropriate social spaces for other club members, and expand its slate of cultural enrichment offerings.
“Until this addition we really didn’t have the space to give [our music, dance and theater programs] its own specific area,” Parks said. “Now, we can.”
All this has been done, Parks noted, while maintaining the club’s affordability for families annual membership is just $35 per child. That, coupled with the club’s policy of never turning away a child because of an inability to pay and its recently established free snack and dinner programs has, as Parks said, made the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield “a cost-effective alternative” for parents looking for programming for children between the ages of 5 and 18.
Parks said he’s been pleased not only with the community’s response to the club’s programming, but also by its support of the expansion project the largest one the club has undertaken in its 41-year history.
“I just want to really thank everyone who has contributed so far,” Parks said. “When you can raise over $2 million in less than a year, that’s pretty significant.”
Individuals interested in helping the club reach the $2.6 million goal for its “Raise the Roof Capital Campaign” can donate online at www.bgcwestfield.org
or call Parks directly at 562-2301 for more information. Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com