By Amie Dames
Photos by Amie Dames
Crookshank Elementary fifth-grader Amie Dames, 10, loves spending every day after school at the Boys & Girls Club. She is excited about the grand opening of the new facility this summer.
“There’s going to be a lot more space to play and learn,” Dames said.
The Boys & Girls Club is relocating from South Woodlawn to West King Street. The new club is significantly larger than the old facility, which had a maximum capacity of 56 students.
“The max at one time is 500, but we’re looking to have an average daily attendance of 150 to 200 youth,” said Justin Black, 24, Unit Director of the St. Augustine Boys & Girls Club.
Flagler College senior Amy Robinson, 20, volunteers weekly at the Boys & Girls Club. She thinks the bigger facility will make the Boys & Girls Club a lot more functional because there will be designated areas for every activity.
“Everyone’s doing homework, reading and playing all in the same area, but the new building has different spaces- it will be a lot more helpful,” Robinson said.
Black said the new club is being reverted back to how clubs used to be built- out of solid block. This creates a more solid foundation.
“The building will be able to withstand hurricanes and become a hurricane shelter,” Black said. “It’s a really great thing for our community to have.”
The new building costs a total of $3 million. The plan includes a gymnasium, game room, learning zone, teen center, art room, computer lab, kitchen and cafeteria.
Richard Hardy, president of the Hardy Construction Group and chairman of the Boys & Girl’s Club unit board in St. John’s County, is enthusiastic about the new club.
“The first big improvement is the much larger program area for the kids to work and study,” Hardy said.
Superintendent of the building plan, Terry Andreu said the construction will take a total of about seven months and will be done in June. Construction started in November.
“June 18 is our date but we’re going to beat that,” said Andreu.
Andreu said he has a team of about 20 men working on the job at once.
Dames is looking forward to meeting new youth in the area who share the same passion for fun, laughter and learning.
“I can’t wait to meet new people and to find people who like to laugh with me,” Dames said.
In January 2010, the Flagler College Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) chapter launched Mission: Media, a program that lets St. Augustine’s Boys and Girls Club children control the news for a day.
In Mission: Media, the children generate and develop story ideas in a “news budget” meeting that SPJ members lead before heading out into the field. Each SPJ member guides a few children through the city and helps them find and interview sources. After the children finish reporting, they return to the Flagler College Gargoyle office to write and publish their work here.