Boys and Girls Club kicks off work on northwest site

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The organization has enough money to begin work on the bulding, but hopes to gain community support to pay for air conditioning, as well as renovations to the gym and ball fields.

The Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County has received help from the community to begin a series of upgrades at its northwest Gainesville site.

The initiative to renovate the facility was announced at the organization’s Annual Caribbean Cruise for Kids last August. The project includes three phases of improvements to the facility at 2661 NW 51st St.

As of now, $170,000 has been raised for upgrades in the project’s first phase. They include renovating the main entryway, replacing doors, adding a new ceiling and floor, upgrading the walls, new paint and adding a classroom to serve more kids, said Shane Johnson, the Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County’s executive director.

About $350,000 will need to be raised for the next two phases, Johnson said.

It is unclear what other upgrades will be made in those phases, but the Boys & Girls Club is also looking to add air conditioning to its facility and to upgrade its gym and athletic fields, Johnson said.

“There’s a lot of upgrades,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do here.”

Many local businesses supported the work, including D.E. Scorpio Corp., which donated construction management services, said Jennifer Denault, the company’s marketing director.

Domenic Scorpio, the company’s president, has had a longstanding relationship with the club. The facility is in bad shape and Scorpio wants to see the club succeed and continue to serve the kids who need it, Denault said.

“It’s probably to the point where they need to look at a whole new facility, but the money isn’t there,” she said. “It just isn’t available, so renovation of the existing facility is the best option at this point in time. Hopefully it will draw attention to the fact that a bigger, more innovative facility is what is needed to serve the community and the kids, but for now this will certainly improve the current conditions, make it a safer place for them to be more comfortable and hopefully be utilized better, moving forward.”

Other businesses have offered their services such as Kail Partners Architecture & Interiors and CHW Engineering. Lowe’s has offered to donate furniture and material and McLeod General Trades and Ashley Furniture HomeStore have donated, as well.

A majority of the facility’s improvements will be paid for by the Rotary Club of Gainesville Foundation’s Wild Game Feast Grant, along with money raised through other efforts over the last six years.

Former University of Florida quarterback Doug Johnson’s Reeling for Kids Fishing Tournament’s contribution will pay for field improvements and building renovations for the club’s athletic department, according to a press release.

The club still needs more donations and support from other organizations and community members to help with renovations.

A ceremony is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at the northwest site to celebrate the work’s launch.

Some of the work on the facility has begun, and the first phase of renovations are expected to take about a month.

“We want the Boys & Girls Club to exist to be here to serve as many kids as possible safely with the best services, programs and facilities that we can give,” Shane Johnson said. “We want the Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County to be the premier child advocacy and after school program in Alachua County, and we’re determined to make that happen.”

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