Boys & Girls Club opens new Teen Center

Boys & Girls Club opens new Teen Center

Pawtucket YMCA Executive Director Jim Stewart, far left, and Navigant Credit Union President and CEO Gary Furtado, chat with Janet Barry at the opening last week of the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln’s new Teen Center. (Breeze photos by Tom Ward)

CUMBERLAND – They’ve got growing teen membership, and now they have room for them.

Last Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln, 1 James J. McKee Way, unveiled its new Teen Center, a comfortable, pastel-colored space that stands in sharp contrast to the garish wall colors in the prior weight room, which was moved to another spot in the rambling club.

At the same event last week, Ocean State Job Lot’s Charitable Foundation, and Executive Director David Sarlitto, was on hand to announce the donation of 7,000 books to seven Boys & Girls’ Clubs across the state.

Job Lot is also pledging to place a book in the hands of every school child – about 93,000 – in Rhode Island.

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, a former Cumberland mayor whose father is one of the club’s founders, sparked the Job Lot/Boys & Girls Club connection in a conversation earlier this year with a Newport nonprofit. At the event, Sarlitto also surprised Cumberland-Lincoln Club Executive Director Gary Rebelo with a $5,000 check for his club, to be used in any way.

On hand for both celebrations were about 150 people, including children as well as Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond and Cumberland Mayor Bill Murray.

The Teen Center was made possible by a $50,000 donation from Lowe’s company, the home improvement giant. It will include room to watch a big-screen TV, tables for playing cards or eating, and a quiet space that can be used not only for teens to do homework, but as a new meeting space for club leaders.

“One year ago,” said Rebelo, “we set a goal for 400 teen members by the end of 2016. Instead, we now have 600.” The plan calls for the separate space to have its own entrance and designated staff, with after-school teen programming and special evening events.

“This gives our teens their own space,” said Rebelo, “and keeps them more separated from smaller children.”

The enlarged Teen Center utilizes added space from a former women’s locker room.

Soon, using a $197,000 grant from The Champlin Foundation, all of the facility’s locker rooms will be rebuilt. Old men’s and women’s locker rooms will be replaced with state-of-the-art facilities, as well as a new family locker room where moms can take their sons – or dads their daughters – for changing.

“It will be gradual work. We won’t be closing all of the rooms now used by swimmers at the club,” said Rebelo. “The pool and its facilities will remain open during construction.”

For the first time, the club will also create new ADA compliant bathrooms in the pool area and lower floor.

Political and community leaders gather for the grand opening of the Teen Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln last week. From left are Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond, Cumberland Mayor’s Chief of Staff George W. Stansfield III, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, and Cumberland Mayor Bill Murray.