The sound of sledgehammers busting through a wall reverberated throughout the former Peace Lutheran Church Building at 232 Windsor Street in Sun Prairie Thursday afternoon. The noise was symbolic of all the walls that needed to be torn down in order for the Boys and Girls Club to bring to fruition its new Sun Prairie home.
But none of long road to get to this point could match the fun, jovial atmosphere inside of Peace Lutheran during an event that started as a press conference and ended with everyone from Mayors to business people to CEO’s to youths trying their hand at bringing down the first wall inside of what Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson hopes will resemble more of a future country club for youth.
The new facility, which will open full time in January of 2020, is the first brick-and-mortar building owned by the BGC in Sun Prairie and will have a full daycare for children ages two to five. It will also feature spaces for arts, tutorial support, after-school activities and employment seeking opportunities.
Anyone hoping to check out the Boys and Girls Club’s new digs can attend an Open House at the facility. The Club is hosting open houses on Tuesday, April 23 from 4pm-6pm and on Thursday, April 25 from 1130am-130pm.
“This is your local Boys and Girls Club. This is going to be a focal point for kids but also adults in this community,” Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson said. “This facility is going to be bright. It’s going to be clean. It’s going to be buzzing with young people throughout Sun Prairie who will get an opportunity to eat a full course meal every single day. We serve about 165,000 snacks and meals every year, and our Boys and Girls Club in Sun Prairie is going to be part of that.”
The facility will be headed by Anthony Burke, who will be Vice President of Operations and the Senior Club Director.
Assisting Burke will be Kathryn Hagel, who will be the Club Director and oversee early childhood programs.
“If you wonder, ‘is Sun Prairie a community that is ready to support the needs of children?’ Let me tell you this: we had two brand new elementary schools open this past fall,” Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser said. “And two weeks ago we passed a $165 million referendum that’s going to result in a second high school here in Sun Prairie. So, I would say to you yes, this is a community that is ready to support kids. Having Boys and Girls Club here is exactly perfect and the right thing. I am so excited about this. It is such a need communities to have affordable child care and then on top of that they’re going to provide a safe environment where children can come. I don’t know what community would not be proud to have this here. And we are proud here in Sun Prairie.’
Michael Johnson implored people to do what they can to help make this building a state-of-the-art place. They are in need of volunteers to help renovations and Johnson said the Club is looking for sponsors to help sponsor each room in the new facility. Johnson said that all in all, approximately $2 million will be needed in order to make the facility shine the brightest it can for the youth and families who are going to be utilizing vital services every single day.
“I am confident that this community will step up and we will raise the necessary resources and make sure that our kids in Sun Prairie are thriving,” Johnson said.
Johnson then stepped away from the podium and donned a hardhat and grabbed a sledgehammer. Along with Mayor Esser, he took the first shots at busting through a wall in the old church. They were joined by Boys and Girls Club board members and executives, Sun Prairie School Board member Marilyn Ruffin, and even some youth from Operation Fresh Start in pulverizing the wall until finally, after some heavy hitting from Johnson, they were able to break through.
The 26,000 square foot facility is scheduled to be up and running by January and will look to serve over 100 youths per day.
This story has been updated to correct an error in the identity of the new club’s director.