BELOIT—Supporters gathered for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly constructed Joel Barrett Boys & Girls Club, 202 Maple Ave., on Tuesday afternoon.
The festivities included guided tours, refreshments and the ceremonial snip of the ribbon. After the formal ceremony, families and children were invited to tour the new facility so they could get the lay of the land before kids begin taking part in after-school programs and more there after winter break on Jan. 3.
Stateline Boys and Girls Club (SBGC) Director of School-aged Programs Emily Peterson kicked off the celebration by saying the building was designed to meet the needs of children for today, and hopefully, for 60 years to come.
“Our youth deserve this and the opportunities it will provide for them,” Peterson said.
After Emmanuel Baptist Church Pastor OJ Newburn gave the invocation, SBGC Board President Tim Schmiechen thanked everyone who supported the project.
Three years ago, he said, it was becoming clear serious repairs were needed for the former building, at 1851 Moore St., which was constructed in 1960. Schmiechen said SBGC CEO Mark Rand’s vision of having the club centrally located in the city led to 100% of support from the club’s board.
During these difficult times, Schmiechen said it’s a tremendous honor to play a role in an organization investing in young people in the community.
Community advocate Maria Delgado, and former SGBC board member, said the community has put youth as its priority. She said the SGBC has been a safe haven for many children. It develops kids’ leadership skills and provides them with career development. She noted she also loves the diversity of staff.
“Together and working collaboratively we can create a bigger impact,” Delgado said.
Capital Campaign Chair Jim Packard Jr. spoke about the challenges of raising $5.5 million to build the new club. A passionate and steadfast capital campaign committee was formed including: Pastor Sherrick Anderson, Vicky Bryden, Steve Hahn, Brenda Jensen, Jeff Klett, Mike Marquette, Rand and Packard. Packard also praised the campaign marketing committee.
State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R- Clinton, congratulated everyone on the capstone of what has been a huge effort.
“What you offer here is so much more than a place to go,” she said.
Loudenbeck said it can be a safe and quiet place, can offer caring adults and can be a place to blow off steam at times.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America CEO and President Jim Clark said Wisconsin is a leader in clubs in innovation and impact as the communities are so philanthropic.
“This facility is a model,” he said.
Clark said it’s a celebration to raise more than $5.5 million in just a little more than a year, and is a celebration of youth.
“This facility and the staff here will forever change the trajectory of youth and teens in this community,” he said. “What you’ve created here will make a difference for generations.”
Rand said Joel Barrett is the building’s namesake. Not only did Barrett serve the organization for more than 30 years, but he was a true servant leader.
“Joel, I hope we make you proud today, and every day,” Rand said.
Rand thanked the board of directors. He said clubs are about opportunities and providing great futures. The clubs, he said, level the playing field for all young people.
“Great futures definitely start here,” he said.
Rand said the club was his home away from home growing up and he said it later provided for his three sons.
“If I can be a small part of providing those opportunities to young people today and tomorrow, I’m glad to do it. Welcome to the Joel Barrett Boys & Girls Club,” Rand said.
Beloit’s Joel Barrett Boys & Girls Club broke ground on April 5 at 202 Maple Ave., 1500 Shore Drive and a northern portion of 1459 Sixth St. across from Beloit Memorial High School.
The new facility will offer expanded STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities, increased teen programming and allow for increased capacity to reach more youth. The center also will allow for community collaborations for career exploration and cooking classes and more.
It offers more space at 24,765 square feet of space compared to the facility on Moore Street at 16,000 square feet. It also will offer a large gym, bigger classrooms, more office and sports equipment storage space, kitchen facilities, teen center, patios areas, sound studio for kids to make music, playground and more. A teaching kitchen donated by Kerry Ingredients will be in the teen area where youngsters can learn about healthy eating and hone their culinary skills. The gym will be large enough to be split in half to offer two programs at the same time.
The teen center entrance will be on Maple Avenue with the main entrance off the parking lot on Shore Drive.
The facility is located on 4.7 acres which will include areas for soccer and football fields.