The Stateline Boys and Girls Club in Beloit has shaped many lives. Now that its Beloit location is moving from Moore Street to Maple Street, three of the men whose lives it shaped saw an opportunity to give back.
Mike Hodges, Ty Evans and Harvey Logan — all Beloit Memorial alumni — are set to buy the building and turn it into a new community center focused on “education and empowerment.”
“It’s been a childhood dream for a long time,” said Hodges, now an entrepreneur and NBA player agent in Illinois who graduated from Memorial in 1990. “When we had our opportunity, we would come back and provide some of the things that people had provided for us in our childhood. It materialized, obviously, with the building being available.”
Hodges said the three, who played together on the Memorial basketball team, owe a lot of their success to their time at the club. Logan is a special education teacher in Louisiana and Evans is the head women’s basketball coach at Tennessee State University.
“Took a tour of the building and it just was a real emotional tour, just being able to go through it and remembering so many different times in the locker room and the gym and just how powerful it was to us,” Hodges said. “And even if you didn’t play the sport or (weren’t) involved, you had friends that was involved in other sports that brought you together from different sides of town, different elementary schools, different junior highs. I mean, it was the Mecca for us back then. It was a place that brought us all together. So it just felt right. It felt like it was our time to begin.”
Hodges, Logan and Evans are set to close on the building at the end of December, and will take the next several months forming and fundraising for the nonprofit organization that will run the center, and to meet with stakeholders and community leaders to determine what needs could be met by a new community center. Hodges said he didn’t want to duplicate services that already exist. In any case, Hodges said two things will be at the core: empowerment and education.
“Just to the core of who we are is empowerment and education. Looking to advance the city of Beloit from an economic and a social justice standpoint, but I think it just goes back to educate and empower,” he said.
That will likely take the form of some sort of career readiness programming for youth, and a focus on mental health for all ages — something that’s lacking in many Black and brown communities, Hodges said.
“In our community, it’s been so long that we’ve been told (seeking help with mental health) is taboo,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of kids that’s dealing with a lot of different issues. They don’t have the platform to discuss with people. Sometimes it takes, right or wrong or indifferent, for them to see somebody that looks like themselves.”
Hodges said it’s important that three Black men have remained connected to the city — one of the most diverse in the state — and are now giving back.
“I think leadership and ownership are important in the Black and brown community,” he said. “We scream Black lives matter, Black lives matter. It’s not going to matter until we have ownership, until we take leadership.”