Youth club opening delayed

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2000

Juneau's new Boys and Girls Club will not open until July 22 because of construction.

``The building improvements (still) have to be finished,'' said Alberta Aspen, head of the club's advisory committee. ``We just have kind of a short list of things that have to be done. It's better to have some breathing room than driving and opening and everybody's tired.''

When the club opens, it will provide an area for Juneau kids to play games, have fun and learn. All youths ages 8 to 18 are welcome and memberships cost $25.

``The thing that's nice about Boys and Girls Club is that it's a membership organization. It's an organized activity,'' Aspen said. ``Everything happens with counselors -- it's not where you just go and hang out all day. Things happen, programs happen.''

The club is behind the Nugget Mall at 825 Mallard, in the 4,800-square-foot building that previously housed Don Abel Home Tech.

The main impediment to completion is the bathrooms, which still need finishing touches. In addition, some walls still need painted, and the accessible ramps and fire doors are being tweaked. When work is completed, a final inspection by the city will be necessary.

``We're taking extra steps to make sure there's no nails hanging out where they shouldn't be,'' said Steve Bassett, manager of the club. ``We just want to make sure that it's safe and attractive to the eye.''

Once the club opens, youths can surf the Internet from the fully equipped computer lab, play ping pong, pool, Foosball and assorted board games in the game room, or read and do homework in the study room. Vending machines provide snack food, and there's a basketball hoop outside for games of one-on-one.

``We'll be working with off-site (groups) so we can do sports programs,'' Aspen said. ``We'll work with other organizations in town.''

``We are a facility-based program here at the club,'' Bassett added. ``But we're also going to be doing some hiking trips, some outdoors adventures.''

Funds to support the program come from both the Anchorage Boys and Girls Club and a grant secured by the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority. It will be staffed by volunteers, and is actively recruiting community members to come help.

``Every day you have at least three to five come in and want to volunteer,'' Bassett said. ``We'll take 2,000 of them if that's how many people want to come out and help out.''

At the moment, about 10 children are registered members of the club, but that could soon change. Fifty membership applications have been handed out, and news is spreading quickly.

``For the most part, the real big response has been from word of mouth,'' Bassett said. ``The community's been really great about telling everybody else about the club.''

The July 22 opening will be a test for the club, Aspen said.

``It's kind of like a dry run, a trial run,'' she said. ``We'll have a grand opening in the fall after school starts. Then we'll have ceremonies and all the things that go with it.''



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