B&G Club $3 million into funding for new building at kickoff event

Huntington County Community Schools Superintendent Tracey Shafer (left) and Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters look over the program at the Huntington Boys and Girls Club Capital Campaign Kickoff, which took place Thursday, Jan. 30. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

A jubilant crowd filled the Parkview Huntington Hospital cafeteria to standing room only on Thursday, Jan. 30, excited about a capital campaign that was nearly complete before it was officially announced.

The Huntington Boys & Girls Club made the announcement that it has already raised $3,009,125 of its $3.5 million goal to build a new facility, which will be known as The Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County. It will be located on the club's current site on East State Street.

BAGC Executive Director Mandy Reber says the current facility, which serves more than 150 children per day, has presented challenges to youngsters and staff alike.

"With the building being almost 100 years old in the next few years, it has its deficiencies," Reber said. "In the hot summers if you've ever been there you're going to sweat. I promise you, your clothes are going to stick to you. And it's incredibly cold in the winter. You can ask the members around the room ... ask them how often they take their coats off during the winter. It's not very often."

Reber adds she has been thankful and blessed by the outpouring of support from the community to build a new club building she said the youth need and deserve.

BAGC Board of Directors Member and Capital Campaign Co-chair Sonny Marsh says the fund-raising reached 86 percent of its goal during what he called the "quiet phase" of the campaign, which began in January of 2013.

"We're just now announcing this project to the open public," he says. "We've been working behind the scenes with the generous people of Huntington County. Our goal is to finish and wrap up the campaign by the March-April timeframe, and begin breaking ground shortly after that. We would certainly hope that by summer we will see some real progress on site."

Marsh says the campaign has allowed the club to purchase properties around the current site, so that construction can take place while keeping open the current Boys & Girls Club building. Once the new facility is complete, sometime in early 2015, the old building will then be demolished.

Marsh says the design plans are not complete, but an architectural rendering displayed during the kickoff event features a gymnasium, junior and cadet game rooms, a canteen/multi-purpose room, a learning kitchen, staff offices, conference room, two learning center rooms and rooms specifically for Lego and robotics, art, and dance and aerobics as well as a secure entry to the club.

Reber says about 80 donors made up 75 percent of the funds that have already been donated, with Parkview Huntington Hospital donating the rest, what she called a "significant contribution."

Parkview Huntington Hospital CEO Darlene Garrett says she is excited to form a "co-branding partnership" with the club, working together to improve the health and well-being of the community.

"Since 2010 Parkview Huntington Hospital has provided financial support to the Boys & Girls Club's Smart Moves program, encouraging healthy life choices among boys and girls club members, giving them the wisdom and knowledge to make the right decisions that will serve them well into their adult life," she says. "We are proud to have Parkview's name and brand connected to such a well-respected community partner and leader."

Helen Peare's grandson Caleb rides the bus to the club after school. She says it has made a difference in his life.

"It gives him something to do afterwards," she says. "They asked him to be in the Robot Club and he's the first one to go. He enjoys everything that he does. I think it's developed him and made him a lot more open, because he was a little shy."

The club not only serves as a meeting place for friends to gather, it has a homework help program, a robotics program, empowerment and safety programs, art programs, shovels snow for those in need and offers hot meals.

Eli Minick, 14, has been a member for about five years. He was excited to hear the news about getting a new club building. He can usually be found hanging out in the teen room to do his homework or playing dodgeball in the gym.

"We haven't had a new club in quite some time," Eli says

Complete caption: Huntington County Community Schools Superintendent Tracey Shafer (left) and Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters look over the program at the Huntington Boys and Girls Club Capital Campaign Kickoff, which took place Thursday, Jan. 30. An architect's plans show how the club's layout might look once construction is complete in early 2015. .