The Watertown Boys and Girls Club has kicked off its Great Futures Campaign, the public fund-raising effort to pay for a major overhaul of the club on Whites Avenue including the addition of a teen center.
On Thursday night, the club hosted a kick off for its capital campaign at the Commander’s Mansion. The total goal of the campaign is to raise $1.4 million for the new construction and other upgrades at the center, but Executive Director Renee Gaudette started the effort last year.
“We reached $750,000 this summer and decided to announced to the public our campaign,” Gaudette said, saying many of the donations have come from foundations and businesses.
Some of the work has already been completed, Gaudette said, including the new gymnasium floor and a new dehumidification system for the club’s pool, both of which were completed last year. The bulk of the funds, about $850,000, will go to the building renovation.
The club will get a new entryway with a more prominent look, Gaudette said.
“I talk to people in Watertown and they say, ‘What do you do?’ I say, I run the Boys and Girls Club and they say, ‘I didn’t know Watertown had a Boys and Girls Club,'” Gaudette said. “The building is almost invisible. We want to be a loud and proud part of the community.”
The front will have a new canopy that directs rainwater into a garden that will taken care of by club members. It will also feature a larger logo and modern look. Also, a new disabled ramp will be added in front of the building. The current one is too steep to meet ADA standards.
The Boys and Girls Clubs has members from age 7 to 18, but the older ones said they would like an area where they do not have to hang out with the younger kids, Gaudette said, “And we heard them.” She noted that this would be the first teen center in Watertown.
“We did a survey a few years back and teens said they wanted technology and food, but the thing we heard over and over was that we want our own space,” Gaudette said.
The new center will be added without adding to the building’s footprint, Gaudette said. The wall between a room largely used for storage and the current entry hallway will be taken down, and create a 650-square-foot area that the teens can call their own.
The club will also get a new more secure entryway and a private meeting room will be added by reconfiguring the office space.
So far, the Boys & Girls Club has received some significant donations from foundations and several local banks, but largely Gaudette has not appealed to the public.
“If you have $50, $500, $1,500 to contribute, every dollar counts,” Gaudette said. “We’re a small community. It’s a big ask.”
If all goes well, Gaudette said, construction will start in the spring of 2018 and will be done by the end of June 2018. The club will remain open during the construction.
For more information about the Great Futures Campaign, and to donate, go to www.watertownbgc.org/greatfutures