Boys and Girls Club of Alpena holds groundbreaking ceremony
ALPENA — Dignitaries, board members and community members attended Friday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena’s new location, at the old Alpena Community College East Campus building at 801 W. Miller Street. Construction starts now and is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year.
The entire project will cost about $2.5 million, according to Boys and Girls Club of Alpena Executive Director Bradley Somers.
“Community support has made this organization what it is,” Somers said. “Without the community and the support of others — individuals, businesses, foundations, there is no place for kids to go after school. There is no summer program for 150 kids. We are very lucky in our community to have a Boys and Girls Club because of what it represents, and what it does for the community.”
Thanks to tremendous community support, funding has been procured to start construction on the new facility, which will provide a much bigger space and better resources to allow children and teens to gather for after-school programs.
“We need more room. We need a bigger facility,” Somers told a crowd of about 30 people. “We want to teach these kids more things — workforce development, culinary arts — we want to continue to prepare these kids for the future, to show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our services are for all kids, but our mission is especially for those that need us most.”
State Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, and Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Johnson, were among the speakers at this morning’s 11 a.m. program.
Because it is February in Northeast Michigan, the frozen ground was not actually broken at the groundbreaking. Somers said the project is remodeling and renovations, rather than actually building a new facility, but it was called a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction, which will be completed by Meridian Contracting Services.
“The groundbreaking is a way for us to celebrate all the hard work that has happened, and to update the community on our progress,” Somers said.
Self-guided tours of the gutted facility were available, and renderings of the new facility flanked the speakers, which included Allor, Johnson, Somers, Board President Kevin Skiba, Board Vice President Jennifer Calery, Board Member Melissa Lappan, Board Member Robin LaLonde, and Chris McCoy of The Besser Foundation.
“I’m super excited to be where we are today, because we’ve been talking about this since my very first day on the board,” said Board President Kevin Skiba, who has been on the board for six years. “I’d like to take a quick moment to thank all the board members for all the time and effort they’ve put into this process.”
All the board members are volunteers, and they have made valuable contributions of time, expertise, and more, while many community businesses, individuals and organizations have donated funds to continue moving this project forward.
Board Vice President Jennifer Calery told herself she wouldn’t cry when she took to the podium, but she could not help it as she thanked the many generous members of the community who have given so much time, effort, in-kind work, and money to make this dream a reality.
“Sue (Allor) and Senator Stamos really went to bat for us,” Calery noted. “We were the only Boys and Girls Club in the state of Michigan to receive funding in the budget last year, all the way up here in little old Alpena. We’re getting talked about in clubs in Detroit and Benton Harbor, and it’s just incredible.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Alpena received $500,000 from the state.
“That $500,000 is going to be used in fantastic ways,” Allor said, adding that an investment in children is an investment in our future. “Seeing the community support behind this made this a very, very easy ask within our appropriations. I’m very excited to see what the future holds.”
Alpena Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Johnson followed Allor.
“The Boys and Girls Club has had a presence in our city since 1926, in some fashion,” Johnson noted. “We are thrilled with what they do for our local community, when it comes to children.”
“It is absolutely phenomenal,” Skiba added. “I cannot wait to get this thing going.”
While funding has been either procured or pledged to cover the construction portion of the project, Somers said about $500,000 still needs to be raised to cover all the costs, including all the indoor equipment and furnishings needed once the construction is complete.
Somers added that they hope to move into the new space in the first quarter of 2023.
“The kids see these renderings when they walk into my office, and they are excited that they will be able to come to a place like this and learn valuable skills,” Somers concluded. “I’m extraordinary grateful.”