For Lindsay Roman and Rosa Calvario Smith, the expansion of the Southwood Boys & Girls Club means more of their friends will be able to join them the facility.
The club is getting a brand-new 2,800-square-foot building in the Southwood neighborhood, which will allow it to serve 200 children at a time.
Lindsay, 10, and Rosa, 11, have been members since they were six years old.
âSheâs dying to come here,â Rosa said of a friend of hers, while the girls talked about children who are on the waitlist. âShe keeps asking me what they do, when they do it.â
Lindsay is excited about the new kitchen and Rosa is looking forward to the additional space in the new building.
The club currently is able to accommodate 120 children.
âWeâve had our eye on serving all the kids who have raised their hands and said they wanted to be in the club since the year 2000, when we were here for the first time,â Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia CEO James Pierce said. âThe need continues to grow, and whenever thereâs a waiting list we try to find ways to serve that waiting list.â
Southwood, a 341-unit mobile home park, is owned by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. There are plans to redevelop the property into a mixed income community that will house current and additional residents.
The new Boys & Girls Club building will be modular and moveable in case it needs to be relocated in the future.
âWe spend a lot of energy on, Habitat and Boys & Girls Club together, talking about that, and it wouldnât be a good investment to put something permanent here now,â Pierce said. âWe always want to provide the best possible solution for kids, but addressing the waiting list was the most important part and Habitat was fantastic to work with to help us to do that.â
According to Olga Boucher, the unit director of the Southwood Club, there are more than 120 children on the waitlist, and almost all of their current members re-register each year, making open spots rare.
âWe have a huge retention rate,â Boucher said. âOur kids donât leave, so our wait time is a year and a half to two years. If kids donât leave, we canât let kids in, and so they just sit and wait.â
One seven-year-old girl who lives less than a block away from the club comes every week to see if a space has opened up.
âShe knows us by name,â Boucher said. âShe comes in and sheâs like number 48 on the list â I know because she makes us check it. She wants to know if she moved, and it doesnât move. Thatâs one of many stories, but itâs just so heartbreaking.â
Because not every member attends the club every day, and some younger children leave before the teen group arrives, the club has 185 members, and will be…