The Boys & Girls Club on 145th Street in Harlem that’s set to open on Oct. 20 will represent more than just a safe place for kids and teens in New York City. The facility will be located in the old P.S. 186 school building that closed its doors in 1975. After purchasing the building in 1986, the Harlem Boys & Girls Club board of directors planned to convert it into a fully operating Club space for area youth. But without sufficient financing to develop the property, the building sat vacant for the past 30 years.
With trees sprouting out of the building as the years wore on, local residents insisted that the weathered property be demolished. However, the Club’s board of directors was dedicated to seeing the project through. In June 2014, they secured enough financing to begin development and construction.
“For many years, the building was considered a blight in the neighborhood,” said Dominique Jones, executive director of the Harlem Boys & Girls Club and also a local resident. “Now it’s become a beacon on the 145th Street corridor and home to a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit hundreds of local kids for years to come.”
To help ensure the kids and teens in Harlem and youth across the country continue to have a safe haven after school, Lowe’s is teaming with Boys & Girls Clubs of America on the partnership’s largest initiative yet – Renovation Across the Nation. Lowe’s provided $2.5 million in grants to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, giving 50 Clubs – one in each state – a $50,000 grant to help meet critical needs. The Harlem Boys & Girls Club was the New York state grant recipient.
At the Harlem Boys & Girls Club, Jones identified fitness and nutrition programming as one of the Club’s most critical needs because it gives members access to healthy snacks and meals, and the opportunity to learn about healthy decision-making. “The kids and teens we currently serve come from families that struggle to afford food,” Jones said, “which is why it’s important that we help reduce the risk of hunger among those we serve by providing access to nutritious food while at the Club.”“The building was considered a blight in the neighborhood. Now it’s become a beacon on the 145th Street corridor.”—Dominique Jones, executive director of the Harlem Boys & Girls Club and also a local resident
With Lowe’s support, the Harlem Boys & Girls Club will open next month with commercial-grade kitchen appliances that will enable the facility to safely store fresh foods and offer meals to its members. The Club used the Lowe’s grant to purchase a commercial refrigerator, freezer, steamer and microwave. “Not only will we be able to serve hot meals to area children most vulnerable to food insecurity,” Jones said, “but we will be able to diversify what we can offer.”
In addition to Lowe’s funding support, Lowe’s volunteers will be engaged in revitalization efforts at local Clubs. In Harlem, more than 30 Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers came out alongside Olympic gold-medal gymnast Dominique Dawes to celebrate the new Club and kick off Renovation Across the Nation. The volunteers spent the morning beautifying the outdoor courtyard and assembling shelves for the pantry that will serve approximately 100 kids and teens each day. Boys & Girls Clubs of America estimates that Renovation Across Nation revitalization projects will help improve facilities for 50,000 kids and teens who attend local Clubs around the country.
Each month, Open House will feature renovations being completed at Clubs across the country. Check back to see how these transformations are impacting the kids and teens served by Boys & Girls Clubs.