Release Date: May 21, 2001
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new and permanent facility for the Amherst Boys & Girls Club to meet the needs of children and families in the Eggertsville neighborhood adjacent to the University at Buffalo's South (Main Street) Campus is on the horizon as the result of a planning grant announced at a press conference today.
The $100,000 grant, from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to UB and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, will fund a feasibility study for the club, which first opened in Clark Gym on the UB South Campus and now is housed in St. Peter's Church on Longmeadow Road.
The clubhouse, to be developed in collaboration with UB's University Community Initiative, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, the Amherst Central School District and the Town of Amherst Youth Board, will include a family support center designed to address the needs of children ages 7-12 and their parents.
"We are delighted to join the Amherst Central School District and the Buffalo Boys & Girls Clubs as a partner for this most worthwhile project, which will benefit families in the university community's Eggertsville/Amherst neighborhood," said UB President William R. Greiner.
"UB is committed to public-service programs such as this one," Greiner added. "We're honored that it was only one of three programs in the nation to be selected for pilot project funding. Our thanks go to our local congressional delegation for their fine efforts in securing funding for this innovative initiative."
Greiner noted that the planning grant was made possible thanks to the efforts of Thomas Reynolds (R-Clarence), who represents the district in which the clubhouse will provide services. Reynolds was part of a congressional delegation that was instrumental in increasing the 2001 federal appropriation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to $69 million from $50 million.
"This new clubhouse is welcome news for children and parents alike," said Reynolds. "I'm grateful for the commitment that the Boys and Girls Clubs and UB are making to this area, and for the role I was able to play in securing the funding we need to help make this project a reality."
The Amherst Boys & Girls Club provides guidance and support to neighborhood youth through after-school recreational and academic programs. It is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, which have six clubhouses in the city and two in the suburbs.
With a daily attendance of 40 children -- and a waiting list of 50 or more who need the services offered -- the Eggertsville club has outgrown its present location.
"The current program serves a population of young people who are not only in need of after-school enrichment programs, but whose families could benefit as well from access to appropriate support services," said Mary H. Gresham, Ph.D., vice president for public service and urban affairs, and dean of the UB Graduate School of Education.
Studies have shown the Amherst/Eggertsville neighborhood has a substantial need for educational services, especially before- and after-school programs and summer-vacation programs, she noted.
"Kids need attention," Gresham said. "Parents need help."
"We are tremendously excited about the clubhouse, and think it will be of great benefit to the children and families of the Amherst/Eggertsville neighborhood," said Dianne Rowe, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo. "We also are looking forward to working with the University at Buffalo on this important project."
"We are pleased that this initiative will focus on the needs of the children and families in this community," said Paul Batt, president of the Amherst Board of Education. "The needs of the families are well-documented and certainly valid. In addition, the spirit of collaboration between and among agencies is a tremendous asset and serves as the underpinning for this effort."
Although no specific site has been identified yet, the goal is to build a new Boys & Girls Clubhouse strategically located in an area of the Eggertsville/Amherst neighborhood, which is underserved in terms of after-school activities and family services. The clubhouse will serve about 100 children and their families.
In addition to providing support services for families in the neighborhood, the clubhouse will broaden the potential for training and service contributed by UB programs and personnel.
The feasibility study will be conducted by faculty in the UB School of Architecture and Planning. The planning process will include soliciting input from all segments of the Eggertsville/Amherst community.
The new clubhouse also would meet community needs for recreational and adult information and education opportunities, and provide an excellent resource to help address identified social problems by serving as a service-referral agency for children and families.
Founded in 1926, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo currently has partnerships with the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, Erie County Sheriff's Department and the Buffalo Police Department; special prevention organizations that include the Western New York Red Cross and Planned Parenthood of Western New York, and sports organizations that include the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Destroyers and Buffalo Bisons.