A tour of the new South Elgin Boys and Girls Club gives a glimpse of what’s to come

Boys and Girls Club of Elgin’s CEO, Cathy Russell, could not contain her enthusiasm as she spoke to a group gathered last week in South Elgin’s former public building to see the progress they have made. as the building is converted into their new clubhouse.

“I love this place,” Russell said. “It is so exiting.”

Russell walked a group of about 20 board members, local business owners and community members around the floor plan and talked about the goals of the club.

“All I see here are opportunities,” she said. “There are so many opportunities and so many great things that will happen here.

“I can not wait to see it full of children.”

The 20,000-square-foot facility at 735 Martin Drive will provide daily tuition, meals and activities for more than 250 children from kindergarten to eighth grade. The layout has a gym in the middle, surrounded by classrooms.

The new location will include a large learning and reading room, a STEM Lab sponsored by DeVry University, a arts and crafts room, a sensory room designed for children with autism, and a separate social and study area for teens.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

The club plans to be ready and open in time for the new school year.

South Elgin Village Administrator and BGCE South Elgin board member Steve Super said the location in the central part of town, surrounded by housing, apartments, industrial areas and a park, is ideal for what the club wants to bring. He said the area is a frequent target for spray painting and vandalism.

“Kids have nothing to do,” said Super, who was himself a member of the boys ‘and girls’ club when he was a child. “So the idea that this should be here for them after school and replace boredom. The opportunity they get will be transformative for our city. It will have a huge impact.”

Russell said the club’s first goal is to provide a safe place where children can have a hot meal and have their basic needs met.

They will have showers available and a washer and dryer if they need their clothes cleaned. They will also offer transportation if required.

Then the focus shifts to social and emotional learning.

“We know kids are not going to learn about math or science or any of that if they can not handle their emotions in a way that is productive,” she said. “And then after that, we can really focus on their education.”

Russell said the impact of the pandemic on learning over the past few years has really put children behind.

“I can not tell you how many times I have gone into schools recently, and third-grade students do not know how to spell their last names,” she said. “The literacy programs we will offer here have become so important to the club.”

After the tour, Russell said seeing the progress was “overwhelming.”

“Just seeing it like this is so emotional for me,” she said. “I know that when it’s full of kids, I’m going to cry like a baby.”

Rising project costs have increased the price tag for construction to $ 4.6 million, an increase of nearly $ 1 million from this time last year. Russell and the group continue to raise money.

“We’ve had so much support up to this point,” she said. “People believe in what we do and I know we get it done.”

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