Boys & Girls Club Considers Move

Local News

An organization that serves area youth is growing too fast to accommodate its members. So now it’s looking towards moving into a bigger space. The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley is in talks with First Lutheran Church to buy its building on Oxford Avenue.

Fox 25-48’s Jessica Bringe has the story.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley is aimed at helping the community’s youth. But Tracey Smiskey with the nonprofit says a lack of space is hindering the organization’s impact.

“The last thing we want to do is to have to turn kids away.”

Smiskey says the quality of the program is being affected because there’s not enough room to accommodate the growing amount of members.

“We’ve had to institute a wait list on a few occasions to make sure that we have the staff and the space to facilitate safe programs that are high impact.”

Smiskey says while this may seem like a fairly large gymnasium, the Boys and Girls club is growing rapidly. Just nine years ago there was an average of about 13 members during the school year, this year there’s an average of a hundred and even closer to 200 during the summer.

“If we are able to move into a facility with a larger amount of space that means there’s more kids that can be impacted by the program.”

The solution may come from First Lutheran Church on Oxford Avenue as the congregation is leaving the building to join Our Saviors Church on Main.

“We’ll become Spirit Lutheran on November 2nd.”

In order for the Boys and Girls Club to move into the church, Smiskey says the club is relying on the generosity of the community over the next three months during its giving campaign to raise the necessary funds.

“We have a 150,000 dollar match to raise funds for the operation of the current program.”

Pastor Amy Odgren says the move has been in talks for a while but now it’s getting serious with both groups moving towards a written agreement.

“We would hopefully receive a written offer from the Boys and Girls Club and then when that is presented to our congregations we will have a congregation vote to vote on the selling of this property.”

While nothing is finalized, both Smiskey and Odgren say the move would be fitting for the church and the club.

“I think it matches beautifully with what the Boys and Girls Club is all about.”

“What a great balance of a collaboration to do that together.”

In Eau Claire, Jessica Bringe, Fox 25-48 News at Nine.

Market and Johnson would handle the renovations to the church. The company says it’s still in the preliminary stages but is looking getting the building up to code and balancing needs versus budget.

Smiskey says to help contribute, you can either go to the Boys and Girls Club on Lake Street or donate online.

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