You might have seen some pictures in Tuesday's paper of inmates volunteering at the future site of the John W. Anderson Boys & Girls Club in Gary's Tolleston area.
Two weeks ago, I reached out to Lake County Sheriff John Buncich to see what the possibility was of his work crew donating some time to the project. Not only was the sheriff willing, but eight days later he had already orchestrated a meeting with his team, the Boys & Girls Clubs team and Dion Katsouros from Skillman Corp. to identify projects the crew could do. That following Monday, the sheriff's work crews were already out on site, working hard to help clean up debris and other items. Officer Bill Oliver is the community work crew supervisor, and I thank him for the great job he is doing with the crew.
I stopped by Tuesday afternoon to check on the progress, only to hear that the inmates had been talking about, and taking great pride in, the fact that their picture was in the paper and they were getting recognition. I talked to Greg Parker, who is the maintenance director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, and Larry Cruce, who is an inmate working for Greg. Larry talked about the pride he had in working on this particular project and that it would help kids.
I couldn't help but think as Larry talked to me that this Tolleston Boys & Girls Clubs project is designed to help kids develop a positive outlook on life and provide a safe haven for all the ugly forces out there. I wondered if the Boys & Girls Clubs had been in the lives of those inmates, how many of them would have gone down a more positive path?
I don't know how long the crews will be out there, but I want to thank Buncich and his staff for the quick and positive response in helping us help the kids.
"That's just our way of giving back to the community," Buncich said. That might be true but the fact of the matter is there are a lot of badly needed projects out there and Buncich's commitment to helping the youths of Gary and Lake County is to be commended.
I want to remind everyone that the bid will be let soon for the rest of the building and we hope to reduce the total cost of the building by 20 percent in an effort to fully fund the project. We hope that contractors will consider donating product, work or a combination of both in an effort to achieve this goal. That donation can be reflective in the bid.
If you would like to donate money or services or would like to participate in the Buy a Brick campaign, please contact me at email@example.com or go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana website http://bgcnwi.org/
Finally, the Boys & Girls Clubs is badly in need of a wheeled hopper and a good chain saw to continue the cleanup. If someone has either of these used items that they would consider donating to the clubs, it would be very much appreciated. And thank you to all who have already donated!
Bill Masterson Jr. is publisher of The Times Media Co. Follow him on Twitter @nwi_BMasterson
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