GARY | The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana officially kicked off its $8 million capital campaign Monday to transform the shuttered Tolleston Middle School into the new home of Gary's John Will Anderson Club.
"This is an extremely exciting time for many of us who have already invested over two years into the project," said Bill Masterson Jr., publisher of The Times Media Co. and co-chairman of the capital campaign committee. "We have seen a tremendous amount of excitement for the project and hope that people will give to this worthy cause."
During the past two years, Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Lincoln Ellis and Masterson vetted more than 43 potential sites before selecting Tolleston, 2700 W. 19th Ave., Gary. After receiving approval from the Boys & Girls Clubs board and engaging in negotiations with Gary Community School Corp. for nearly a year, officials bought the building for $1,000.
The $8 million campaign consists of $6 million in actual building costs and a $2 million endowment that will generate interest to offset the costs of operating the larger building and the ball fields. The current club facility, 225 W. Fifth Ave., does not have any ball fields.
Future plans for the complex include a community wing that would house a day care center and other nonprofit organizations that would be a natural fit for the Boys & Girls Club.
"From the very first visit, when the project was only a concept, you could hear the echoes of joy, laughter and learning throughout the building," said Rob Crookston, board chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs. "Working with and witnessing firsthand the passion of the community and the Boys & Girls Clubs of NWI as they work to bring the exuberant sounds of children back to the Tolleston School is truly inspiring."
The complex also will house administration offices for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, a media center, a cafeteria and an exercise room that senior citizens and other members may use when it is not occupied by activities.
"The Tolleston project is the absolute right thing at the right time for our community and The Boys & Girls Clubs of NWI," former Boys & Girls Clubs Chairman Wil Davis said. "After serving so many years with the Boys & Girls Club, I'm proud to come back and donate my time and money to this project."
To start the campaign, the John W. Anderson Foundation, a longtime Boys & Girls Club benefactor, has committed $2 million to the facility that bears its name. The Dean & Barbara White Foundation also has donated $1 million.
"The extreme generosity of the Anderson Foundation and Mr. White cannot be measured," Masterson said. "Both organizations have committed funds during an extremely difficult financial time for many organizations, yet they are investing in the youth. These youths will ultimately be dealing with the problems we face today as a country."
The $3 million already committed to the project represents 50 percent of the total construction price tag. There are many opportunities and levels for donors, including a Buy a Brick campaign that will welcome the youth along a path of success into the building.
A website with more information about the Tolleston project — www.BeGreatNWI.org — provides more information.
People who would like to donate to the Boys & Girls Clubs' Tolleston campaign can contact Masterson at (219) 933-3330 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Alison Martin at (219) 881-1060, ext. 404, or email@example.com.