Pennsylvania State Rep. Joanna E. McClinton joined Caring People Alliance to cut the ribbon at the doors of a new West Philadelphia Boys & Girls Club at 5843-55 Catherine St. last week.
The event was followed by an indoor coat giveaway and mobile food pantry for the community. Community members were invited to come see the new Club, visit the mobile food pantry presented by The Print Foundation, Inc., and select a new children’s coat in the newly refitted gymnasium.
“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.”
The 25,000-square-foot Boys & Girls Club provides two floors of classrooms, a large multi-purpose room, and a gym with a pull-down screen and a professional basketball court. The entire building is handicapped accessible.
“We are very excited to bring this full-service, state-of-the-art facility to the community,” says Jerry MacDonald, president and CEO of Caring People Alliance. “It features an early learning center and after school programming. In the future, it will offer teen and senior programming.”
The original building went up in 1925 and burned down in 2006. The only remnant of the original building is a pillar in the entryway. Caring People Alliance purchased the new building in January 2021 with the intention of relocating its Mantua Boys & Girls Club.
“We spent more than 60 years in Mantua and watched the area gentrify,” MacDonald said. “We need to be where there is the most need for the type of life-changing services we provide. We moved to be closer to the families we serve.”
Caring People Alliance received a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to cover $2 million of the costs for the building’s renovation.