Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County unveils The Club for teens at the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club

Club member Fatima, Boys & Girls Clubs of America Senior Vice President of Youth Development Elizabeth Fowlkes, 2018 Florida Youth of the Year Rickey Tedesco, Baycross Christian Family Foundation Executive Director Shahla Simpler, Caroline and Lee Wetherington of the Lee Wetherington Foundation and Club member Brandon Stewart cut The Club’s ribbon on April 14.

Teens in a leadership development class led by Leadership Programs Specialist Patricia McGraw (center) in The Club’s new learning lab.

On Saturday, April 14, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County unveiled a newly renovated space for teens to access award-winning leadership and service programs, prepare for college and develop their employability skills through workforce development services and entrepreneurial training. This initiative was made possible thanks to a major lead gift from the Baycross Christian Family Foundation with added support from the Lee Wetherington Foundation of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, as well as, The Burruss Foundation.

Other construction and project partners who helped make the dream of this new teen space a reality include Associated Interior Systems, Bright Future Electric, Carpet One, Cool Today, Gilbane Building Company, Hoyt Architects, Integrity Sound, Lee Wetherington Homes, Plumbing Today, Sterling Manufacturing and Stone Crafters.

This updated, 3,300 sq. ft. space, now called The Club, welcomes all youth ages 13 to 18 and features a technology station with iPads, a smoothie and coffee cafe operated by teen Club members, a built-in performance stage with lighting and an audio/video system, TVs with gaming stations, a recording studio and a learning lab where teens can participate in high-quality programs, receive academic support or meet with mentors. The space also features custom wall murals that were hand-painted by Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club Art Instructor and Ringling College of Art & Design graduate Kat Carver. Watch this time-lapse video below to see the progress of Kat’s work on one of the murals:

 

Teens preparing smoothies in The Club’s new cafe.

“Our organization recognizes the great need to meet the unique demands of today’s teenage demographic,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “While we have always provided teens with various programs, we’ve been striving to better serve them in recent years by implementing services that will help them create a plan for success after high school graduation from vocational training and college and career readiness to leadership and volunteerism programs. This new space, coupled with our topnotch programming, will help us attract and retain teen Club members and help them achieve their full potential.”

Hours before The Club’s dedication, nearly 100 teens who were in town for the 2018 Florida Youth of the Year Celebration from different Boys & Girls Clubs across the state gathered on-site that morning and completed a service project with Farm Share, a 501(c)3 charity working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering and distributing fresh and nutritious food to those who need it most. By the time our organization was ready to cut The Club’s ribbon, those participating teens had successfully assembled 500 bags of food, including fresh produce, for local families in need.

Club teens participate in a service project with Farm Share.

“This has been such an incredible experience for all of us teens, being able to give back to the community with Farm Share before celebrating the completion of The Club,” said Rickey Tedesco, 18-year-old Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club member who was named 2018 Florida Youth of the Year on April 13. “Teens across Sarasota are on track to achieve success because of our friends and community partners who believe in our full potential as tomorrow’s leaders. This new space will ensure Club teens have the best tools and resources that are necessary to succeed.”

You can see the highlights of this milestone by clicking here and watching our Facebook Live of The Club’s ribbon cutting and dedication. Call 941-217-5295 or click here for more information about The Club and to learn how our programs help teens achieve great futures.