Boys & Girls Club Demolishes Old Building, Moves Forward with New Model

By Nadia Crow, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A long standing Cedar Rapids neighborhood center now sits in rubble. The Boys and Girls Club building on the northwest side was torn down Monday. It hasn't been in use since the flood in 2008. Now, the club is moving forward with a new model to continue to serve the community.

Organizers say they've had to make some changes since the flood all while serving more kids than ever before.

"When I went up the steps and realized we had three feet of water in the second floor gym I was really shocked. It was just shocking," said Executive Director John Tursi.

And it was a harsh reality for the kids of the Boys and Girls club.

"The only thought in my minds was I want my club back. How are we going to do this?" asked Youth Mentor Kaitlin Long.

Kaitlin Long quickly found herself homeless and without her outlet at the club.

"What exactly are we going to do," asked Long.

Executive Director John Tursi says without a main hub, they had to set up five satellite locations through multiple partnerships throughout the city.

"We always said "how do we get the kids to the club?" And then we started saying "how do we get the club to the kids?" asked Tursi.

So they made partnerships with organizations like the Salvation Army. Between non-profits, churches, and schools, the club now regularly serves 150 more kids than before the flood. The northwest side will soon have a Time Check neighborhood recreation center. An organization Tursi says they'll likely partner with. But still, he says they'd like to have a new building of their own to call home. But details are scarce with no floor plan or price tag.

"We are looking into several different opportunities to put the boys and girls club into something that might be bigger than we can control," said Tursi.

The demolition of the girls and boys club closes one chapter but a new one opens. Leaders say they're not sure about a new facility but plan to work on partnerships with other community groups and continue to serve kids in Eastern Iowa.
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