A crowd of 200 people comfortably sat together, laughing and enjoying breakfast at the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation’s new site on Wednesday, Feb. 28.
The “friend-raiser,” as Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Aric Cooksley called it, was “an opportunity for us to share with the community, in our own words, the amazing work the club is doing and the bright future that is right around the corner.”
Those in attendance included community members, elected officials and families involved with the club, which currently is housed at 63055 U.S. Highway 93. Last year, the club purchased the former Total Home building at 62579 U.S. Highway 93.
During the “state of the club address,” Cooksley said that various speakers, including students, gave their aspect of how the club helps children in communities.
“Having a place where kids can go and belong and feel they are a part of, have things that engage them, it’s not just good for the kids. It’s life saving,” Cooksley said.
Currently, the Boys and Girls Club sees 70-80 children a day in its present location, which is more than 3,500 square feet. A waiting list has been enacted to help meet the demand of the program, Cooksley explained.
The new location sprawls out 19,000 square feet, which Cooksley said will allow the club to serve children ages 6-18 years.
“There will be a lot of opportunity for additional ages and programming, for kids all over.”
Several key factors play into the club’s success, and will continue to do so in the future, Cooksley explained.
The first factor is that there more space in the new building, allowing for more activities across the age ranges. Second is the club making an impact in children’s lives by offering various programs to youth who will attend.
To date, the club has raised more than $1.7 million of its $2.5 million goal. Tentatively this fall, Cooksley said board members hope the new location will open, which will depend on several factors, some of which may be out of their control.
“(Opening factors include) how quickly the rest of the monies can be raised, along with how quickly can the work be completed on the building, and then lastly, dealing with any unforeseen circumstances,” Cooksley said.
Cooksley added that volunteers are still needed to help increase programming “so there is opportunity for kids to see what their future can hold.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or donation opportunities can contact the Boys and Girls Club Ronan office at (406) 676-5437.
For more information on the Boys and Girls Club, visit www.flatheadbgc.org.