Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard, left, shakes and with Dick Stowers, during a ribbon cutting celebration of the new Boys & Girls Club now open in Riverview. The cub is located at 6809 Krycul Ave. in Riverview, on a two-acre property owned by Resurrection Catholic Church.

Members of the Riverview Chamber of Commerce, joined by members of the community gathered together for a special ribbon cutting in late January to celebrate the opening of the new Riverview Boys & Girls Club, located at 6809 Krycul Ave. in Riverview.

The more than 200 in attendance got the chance to tour the facility and hear a few words from local community leaders and financial supporters of the project, including Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard, Boy & Girls Club Tampa Board Member and Alumnus Joe Garcia,  Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, George Simmons who administers the Mabel & Ellsworth Simmons Charitable Foundation and Dick Stowers, just to name a few.

While construction of the $1.6 million club, began last June, the project was actually launched in 2006 after a generous $750,000 donation from the Campo family.

Attendees such as Simmons, not only praised the effort to build the new club on the two-acre property owned by Resurrection Catholic Church, on behalf of the community and its young residents, but were proud of being a part of contributing to see it  become a reality.

“This meant a lot to me, and to a lot of people, who have worked very hard and donated a lot of money to see this project all the way through and this facility built,” Simmons said.

In agreement, Lennard emphasized that with the Riverview area growing, the need was recognized for a local Boys & Girls Club.

“The facility will help our  youngsters to have something to do in a positive after school environment,” Lennard said. “I want to thank everyone who has helped to make this come true.”

The Riverview club boast of a 6,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse that includes a multipurpose room and computer lab, a game room, an activity center for arts and crafts, a kitchen and an outdoor basketball court pavilion.

According to club director Fred Spencer it is hoped that as more funds become available, the club will turn the court into an enclosed gymnasium.

The club will operate from Monday-Friday, 2-6 p.m., with two full-time and four part-time staff attending to the more than 100 children who otherwise would likely be unsupervised after school.

Commenting on the importance and benefit of having such facilities available for local youth, Gee shared some statistic with the audience based on the results of a crime rate survey in the area after the opening of the Brandon  Boys and Girls Club.

“After the Brandon club was built, we found a 50 to 60 percent reduction in daytime burglaries,” Gee said. “There was little doubt that building a club in Riverview would be beneficial and make a difference.”

Adding to the economic benefit of having a club operate in the area Gee said that it costs $114.44 a day to house juveniles in the county jail and $276 a day to house juveniles in state custody.

On the other hand, he continued, it costs just $13 a day to send a child to a Boys & Girls Club, which only helps them to  to stay in school and become productive citizens.

“It’s a good investment, it makes good business sense and it’s the right thing to do,” Gee said.

The Riverview club is currently at capacity with many more on the waiting list, which to Brad Baumgardner, president of the Tampa Bay Boys and Girls Club, simply validates project’s importance and necessity.

“The fact that we’ve had so many enrolled and so quickly only goes to show you the great need in this community,” Baumgardner said. “We didn’t even have to advertise as the kids tell other kids about the club. It is a great place for these kids because it combines fun with a purpose.”

The Riverview Boys and Girls Club has enough funds to run its operation for the next 3-4 years.

The Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay network currently includes 15 clubs in Hillsborough County and another three in Pasco County and is now celebrating 85 years of serving the community.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club please visit www.bgctampa.org.

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