Summer campers and staff from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem were joined Tuesday morning by volunteers from the Manhattan Lowe’s store and Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes to celebrate the home-improvement retailer’s gift of $50,000 to the neighborhood nonprofit for renovations to its brand-new facility on West 146th Street.
The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem is one of 50 branches to receive a grant as part of Lowe’s “Renovation Across the Nation” campaign that will end up donating $2.5 million to clubs across the United States.
The Harlem branch was chosen to receive the grant based on two factors — need and opportunity — Misty Marston of Boys & Girls Clubs of America told a source.
“This is a really amazing revitalization of a building here in Harlem,” Marston said. “And to have a to have a Boys & Girls club anchored in the building and the renovation from Lowe’s I think it’s the perfect partnership to create a safe, fun, educational place for the children of this community.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem has operated its main site out of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church for 36 years, said Dominique Jones, the executive director of The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem. Due to the organization’s long-standing efforts in the community, Lowe’s picked the club to launch the “Renovation Across the Nation” campaign, said James Frison, director of community relations for Lowe’s. Lowe’s and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America have been partners since 2009, Frison said.
On Tuesday volunteers from Manhattan Lowe’s stores worked to install shelves in the new center’s kitchen and complete beautification projects in the building’s courtyard.
“This particular club has a really rich history and they’ve been serving kids in this community through a local church, so this project today has been 30 years in the making,” Frison said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem’s new site, located in the former P.S. 186 building, will feature many specialized features, Jones said. Some of the new features will include a teen center that will provide academic support and college guidance, internet access throughout the center, a digital media lab and a commercial kitchen, Jones said. The site will open in October, Jones said.
The new center will also feature a mural designed by 2016 National Fine Arts “Best in Show” winner Debora Cordero. The mural will be painted in all 50 Boys & Girls Clubs selected by Lowe’s “Renovation Across the Nation” campaign.
“Honestly it’s an honor and a blessing,” said Cordero, 16, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida. “I never thought I would be able to do something this big especially at my age — it’s just amazing.”