TERRE HAUTE —
Ten-year-old T.J. Baker started off shooting baskets in the Howard Sharpe Gymnasium.
A short time later, he picked up a cue and shot pool in the new Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club game room.
Asked his reaction to the new Boys & Girls Club location at the former Chauncey Rose Middle School, Baker responded, “It’s awesome.”
On Tuesday, a ribbon-cutting took place and the THBGC opened its doors for youth recreation and programming. Those who join will be able to play basketball in the building that houses the Howard Sharpe gym, and they’ll benefit from expanded programming in the former Chauncey Rose technology building.
Club executive director Jimmy Smith said people in the neighborhood have stopped by and told him “they can’t wait for their kids to come here. That’s what we’re here for.”
He noted that the amount of space for after-school programming has at least tripled, and the club also gains outdoor facilities it didn’t have before, including a track and field.
In the past, about 50 kids have used the club’s after-school programs, and Smith hopes to see that double or triple. Scholarships are available to help needy families with membership fees.
Hours are 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 to 6 p.m. Friday. During basketball season, it also will be open Saturdays.
The old club facility at 220 N. Third St. will continue to be used for basketball programs, but the goal eventually is to move everything to the new site.
Mayor Duke Bennett, who attended the ribbon-cutting, said he grew up playing basketball at the club and later officiated there. “It’s a good re-use of the facility. It’s an old structure but it’s in great condition,” he said. “We couldn’t find a better group to take it over than the Boys and Girls Club. I think it will have a whole new life that will serve the community very well.”
Also on hand was Henry Ozok, 86, who remembers joining the club when he was just 5 years old. Now a THBGC board member, he said, “We’ve come a long way.”
The new club facility brings back other memories as well; Ozok attended Gerstmeyer High School, which predated Chauncey Rose on the site.
When the doors opened at 3 p.m. Tuesday, among the first to walk through the gym door was Paradise Bradford and her two daughters, Oum’uniquik Owens, 5, and De’rricka Owens, 4.
They are attending the club for the first time, Bradford said. Oum’uniquik wants to do tumbling, while De’rricka will play basketball when the program starts later this year.
Bradford is happy to see the program at its new location. “My kids love coming to after-school programs,” she said. At the THBGC, they’ll be in a safe, clean, supervised environment, she said.
The $30 per year membership “meets my budget,” she said.
Debbie Shouse brought her grandson, T.J. Baker, who’s been going to the club since he was 5. Looking over the new facility, she said, “It seems like it’s going to be great — there’s more room for the kids.”
Kalie Schmidt, THBGC program/education director, provided instructions to the 20 or so kids there at 3:30 p.m. and then led them to the technology building, where they could use the computer room, learning center and game room. The facility also has a snack room and arts/crafts area, and it also will feature something new, a teen room.
Kids can play pool or table tennis, while an adjoining room offers Kinect games, Wii and Play Station 3.
The club also offers free tutoring.
“Everybody thinks we’re just a basketball facility,” Smith said. “A lot of the kids and parents don’t understand we offer more programs than just basketball.”
Smith noted the new, larger facility will require extra staffing, and operating costs will be greater.
The former Chauncey Rose main school building will not be used, and eventually, it will be demolished. The goal is to build a new gymnasium to replace the North Third Street facilities. Various parties have shown interest in purchasing the North Third Street property, Smith has said. Proceeds would be used for improvements at the Chauncey Rose site.
Among those staffing the programming area was Shamerria Taylor, an Indiana State University sophomore. She has attended, and worked at, a Boys & Girls Club in Indianapolis. She enjoyed her experiences there and figured since she was attending ISU and needed a job, “I might as well do what I love to do.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Club opens in former Chauncey Rose Middle School
TERRE HAUTE —
Ten-year-old T.J. Baker started off shooting baskets in the Howard Sharpe Gymnasium.
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