GARY | The fundraising goal has been reached and the doors to the new John Will Anderson Boys & Girls Club will swing wide open Nov. 16 at the former Tolleston Middle/High School for a community celebration.
That was the good news shared with the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana board of directors Monday, said Michael Baird, the organization’s interim director.
“We had verbal commitments (for donations) received late last week that put us at about $5.6 million,” Baird said. “That’s very good news.”
The capital campaign to reclaim the long-abandoned school at 2700 W. 19th Ave. and turn it into the Boys & Girls Club and Community Center began in 2011.
The city of Gary completed a $467,000 demolition of the older parts of the school that wouldn’t be used. The Anderson Foundation, the Dean and Barbara White Foundation and NIPSCO invested $4 million into this campaign.
Baird said generous financial commitments also were made by many businesses, organizations and individuals from throughout Northwest Indiana. The Times Media Co. and former Publisher Bill Masterson were among those there from the beginning, he said.
The regional approach that helped stimulate the Tolleston Project “is wonderful from the standpoint of our kids,” Baird said. “This will be a regional center for the Boys & Girls Club in Northwest Indiana. We are looking forward to working with our Porter County counterparts.”
The new Tolleston center will offer programs led by professionals in academic success, character and leadership and “what we need to be part of the workforce — work ethic, getting to work on time, dressing properly, arriving on time, speaking properly and listening,” Baird said.
A two-day grand opening celebration of the new John Will Anderson Club site begins with an invitation-only donor reception Nov. 15.
The admission-free, festival-themed community celebration will be from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 16. Food and carnival games with prizes are part of the fun, said Megan Henning, Boys & Girls Club marketing manager. There is a charge for food and the games.
“There is going to be a talent show competition of kids from the John Will Anderson Club and a Battle of the Lil’DJ’s with local youth,” Henning said. The family games will have prizes and trophies will be awarded to the talent show winners.
Vendors from various youth organizations will be on hand, and tours of the new facilities will be offered.
Sponsors of the two-day grand opening celebration include Horseshoe Casino, Strack & Van Til and Indiana Beverage, she said.