Groundbreaking held for far east side Boys and Girls Club

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by Megan Trent

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 27, 2014) - Community leaders broke ground Wednesday on a new Boys and Girls Club in an area of Indianapolis plagued by high crime and poverty rates.

Located at 38th Street and Post Road, the facility will serve about 1,000 families on the city's far eastside, where poverty levels are twice as high as other areas in Marion County and nearly four out of ten residents are under the age of 18.  Statistics show 69 percent of those children are growing up in single parent homes and 87 percent qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

The new facility will be located next to the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside, or CAFE. The Boys and Girls Club will partner with CAFE to provide services to children ages five through 18. Pastor James Jackson, a CAFE board member, says together the two organizations can make a huge difference.

“There’s a lot of poverty. This area is a federally mandated food desert. There’s a lot of hurt and a lot of pain out here," says Jackson. "So for something like this to come along, it brings a lot of hope and also expresses a lot of love for the people who live in this area.”

Jackson says the new Boys and Girls Club will keep at risk children off the streets.

“A lot of juvenile crime takes place after school lets out," he says. "The Boys and Girls Club is going to be very instrumental in helping to make sure when young people get out of school they have a wonderful place to come, not only for recreational activities, but also for nutritional meals.”

The new 22,000 square foot facility will be named "Finish Line Boys and Girls Club" in honor of a $1.25M donation from The Finish Line, Inc. and The Finish Line Youth Foundation.

“We’ve lived in this neighborhood going on 20 years," says Finish Line Chairman and CEO Glenn Lyon. "So anything we get to do to participate and help make it better is just great.”

The contribution is part of a larger $6.6M capital campaign, also announced Wednesday by Boys and Girls Club leaders. So far, the organization has raised about $5.2M towards their goal, with donations coming from The Finish Line, Inc., The Glick Fund, a CICF fund, Messer Construction and United Way of Central Indiana. This is the organization's first capital campaign in more than 20 years.

“It is so thrilling to see us grow the organization this way and serve more kids, because that’s really what we’re all about doing," says Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis Executive Director Rick Whitten.

The first phase of the capital campaign is already underway at the four freestanding Boys and Girls Club locations in Indianapolis. The kitchen and cafeteria areas are being renovated and expanded to allow more families to receive healthy meals.

“We served almost 200,000 meals last year," says Whitten. "50,000 of those were dinners with the help of Second Helpings. With our new facilities, we can increase that to 70,000 dinners for our kids and their families.”

Phase one should be complete by December 2014. The second phase, construction of the city's 5th freestanding Boys and Girls Club, is set to wrap up in late spring or early summer 2016.

For just $10 a year, children are given a school-year Boys and Girls Club membership, but no child is ever turned away because they can't afford the membership. In 2012, the organization served more than 7,000 children in Marion County. The Boys and Girls Club offers homework assistance, daily exercise, healthy meals and snacks, mentorships, computer training, college exploration, drug and crime prevention programs, scholarships and a safe, stable environment.

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