PHILADELPHIA - The long-awaited Boys and Girls Club officially opened in West Philadelphia, giving local families access to free after school programs to keep kids busy in a safe and positive way.
The Caring People Alliance celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the club, located on 58th and Catherine streets in the Cobbs Creek section of West Philadelphia. On Wednesday, people from all across the city came out to the club to see what resources the Caring People Alliance will be providing at the new facility.
"A project like this cannot be looked at as anything but essential for the children it will serve," says State Representative Joanna E. McClinton. "Especially now, with the catastrophic results of a global pandemic and people hurting in ways that are unfathomable, this new facility and the services it will provide goes right to the heart of helping our kids — not only now but in the future as they, in fact, are our future."
Christine Lewis says she went to the grand opening to check out the free pre-k program for her soon-to-be three-year-old son, but that's just one of the many things the club offers.
"Downstairs they have the video gaming where you can create your own games, they have the gym for different sports," said Nyesha Turner, who currently goes to an after school program in North Philadelphia, but says she is interested in the program here, too. "I like that I meet a lot of new people there, like people interested in different things. You can learn stuff from new people."
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Branon Gilmore is the Senior Director of Program and Service Delivery for Caring People Alliance, and he says he is hoping to give kids a space where they can go for resources and a peace of mind.
"There’s no other Boys and Girls Club or a PAL Police Athletic League in this neighborhood, so we are here, and we want to be a beacon for the community. A place they can go for resources," said Gilmore.
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The 18th Police District provided coats to giveaway at the grand opening alongside the Print Foundation, who supplied healthy food for people to take home. The new building, equipped with a kitchen, plans to provide kids with snacks and meals daily.
"We prepare all the meals for our programs for early learning and after school, and we’ll be doing a cooking club down here shortly," said Eyonya Taylor, Director for Programming at the Early Learning Center.
The Caring People Alliance will also host a mentorship program at the club, which will provide kids with character and career building resources. But for Gilmore, the thing that makes him most proud is getting kids off the streets.
"We are proving a place for kids to go from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. when school lets out. Those are important hours because most parents are still working," he said.
The Caring People Alliance is still enrolling kids for the pre-k program and the after school program. To sign up, click here.