Renovation of Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton gym complete

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

The renovation of the Grand Boulevard gym at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton is complete and will help the organization’s mission to become “a world-class club,” its leader said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton has been in the city for nearly 75 years, and when the buildings were constructed in the 1970s, they were top-of-the-line facilities. “But over those (years) they have gone through a lot of love and a lot of kids have come through the clubs, it was time for a renovation,” said Tommy John, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton.

In order to get more kids to attend the facilities for activities and mentorship, he said, “You have to provide a place where they want to come.”

That’s the first step, John said, is “to provide a beautiful location that the kids are proud of. That’s what this gym represents, the community’s investment to make sure they just don’t have clubs, that we have world-class clubs.”

There has been a lot of community support for the project, though six were recognized at Thursday’s ribbon-cutting celebration. The Hamilton Community Foundation, the Marcum Family, B&G Clubs Board Member and immediate past chair Denise Quinn, Saurber Construction, the Caren Murrel Foundation, and Cardinal Acoustics received gold-painted basketball hoops, which once were used in the gym.

John said he could have been reading names for another 90 minutes of people and organizations that helped.

The gym project was a total change, going from dark ceilings with half-painted walls and cafeteria tiles to a well-lit gym, with freshly painted walls with an all-purpose floor. Acoustic tiles are on either end of the gym to help dampen the echos that commonly accompany gymnasiums.

In addition to athletic leagues and programs, this can also accommodate games during club hours and events, like Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties.

“I’m fairly new to Hamilton and one of the things I recognized right away about the city is when a problem is brought forward, people recognize the problem and they rally around it,” John said, who’s been leading the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton for about 18 months. “It’s a special place in Hamilton, and I could have probably named names for an hour and a half, for all the people that made this project happen. Hamilton is a special place.”

Some of the money spent is expected to be reimbursed by the state of Ohio as the project is named in a capital budget bill. The funds, $225,000, were requested by state Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, and were part of Sub. House Bill 2 with millions of dollars earmarked for Butler County projects. Those funds are now part of the state capital budget, which will be up for a vote next week.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton serves about 500 kids a year at its two facilities on Grand Boulevard and East Avenue, with its Hamilton City Schools partnership at Highland Elementary, the three mobile clubs which are partnerships with Fairfield and Ross schools and Hamilton Parks Conservancy.

And more kids can be served, John said.

“I think based on the most recent Butler County health assessment shows that 50% of families say childcare is a serious problem, but there’s nothing more affordable than free,” he said. “Our programs are free, we just ask the families to utilize the program, so I think we can continue to grow until the needs of our community are met.”

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