A new clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Club at Douglas Park will allow even more young kids the opportunity to access resources that otherwise might not be available to them.
“This is where you spend a lot of your time,” said Carolyn Tuckwell, the president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.
She was speaking to the 50 or so Boys and Girls Club (BGC) youth on Tuesday afternoon who regularly use the organization’s services.
“The old (clubhouse) was pretty squishy,” she said.
The organization gives children and youth a place to be outside of school or home.
To the kids, the club feels like a place where they can hang out with their friends, as well as provide them with three very important things: a sense of belonging, a sense of success and positive relationships.
All of this is accomplished through a wide range of activities such as sports, homework, arts and crafts, and healthy meals.
“Those kids will have the sense of belonging and success they crave and have a strong foundation and the life skills they need to succeed and pursue their dreams,” Tuckwell said.
Tuckwell was there for the grand opening of a new 2,600 square foot Jays Care Community Clubhouse.
The project was made possible thanks to a $250,000 Field of Dreams grant from the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of Toronto’s Major League Baseball team. The Rotary Club of Langley Central also provided $80,000 towards the project, which has been in the works for about the past two years.
“It’s a grey, miserable day outside, but it’s a sunshiny day in this facility,” said Ken Baker, the Rotary Club president, who presented a cheque to Tuckwell.
“This is an absolute dream come true. It took awhile to put this together … but we’re just happy and proud to be part of this great facility.”
The Jays Care Foundation also provided a $50,000 grant earlier this year to assist in the development of a Jays Care Community Clubhouse for the Surrey chapter of the Boys and Girls Club.
“Virtually right away when we started the conversations, it became clear there was room for a partnership,” Tuckwell said.
“So we love any opportunity to partner where we are going to be able to give kids access to things that are good for them and organized sport and baseball is one of those. That was the starting point.”
“Partnerships are really important and the Boys and Girls Clubs do fantastic work,” said Rob Drynan, the interim executive director of the Jays Care Foundation.
“So when we can partner across the country and make things like this happen, everybody wins.”
There are a dozen BGC clubs across the Lower Mainland, serving about 1,000 kids per day.
The Douglas Park location has about 80 kids a day who access the club and Tuckwell estimates the new clubhouse will help about 250 kids per day.
“We know it will grow,” she said.
“It will really expand our ability to help the kids.”
The new clubhouse is decked out in Toronto’s team colours, with key words — team, responsibility, pride, community, learning and success among others — in large letters across the wall.
There will also be an autographed Brett Lawrie jersey hanging on the wall.
The jersey was a gift from Lawrie, who grew up in Langley, and now plays third base for the Blue Jays.
Lawrie was on hand for Tuesday’s ceremony, answering questions from the students about what it takes to get to where he is and what he does to maintain his place at the Major League level.
Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Brett Lawrie presents an autographed jersey to Eshermoo, a Grade 5 student at Douglas Park Elementary, and Carolyn Tuckwell, the president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC. Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Jays’ Care Foundation and $80,000 from the Rotary Club of Langley Central.
One of the tips he gave was how he stretches in full uniform in the sauna to get his body ready for the rigors of the game.
Lawrie, who turns 23 next month, also told the kids that hard work and dedication are key to succeed in whatever the kids chose to do.
The students also serenaded the former Brookswood Secondary graduate with their own version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame.
Afterwards, Lawrie said he loves being an ambassador for Toronto.
“It is good to be here and give all these kids a good opportunity,” he said.
“It is great what the Blue Jays are doing; I am proud to see my team making a difference in the lives of kids on the West Coast.”
“This gives all these kids an opportunity to play sports and have some after school activities.”
For Lawrie, it was also nice to come back to Langley, as his off-season home is now in Arizona.
This was his first visit back in about a year, he said.
“I get to spread the word a little bit (and) it is good to be a part of this because it is a good cause.
“This is what it is all about: seeing the kids excited and giving them opportunity.”